Trying to find a nice balance between using a digital Bible and still having the preferred experience of reading out of my traditional Bible was a journey I never thought I would have to encounter. The Lord introduced me to this situation for a reason and I would be crazy not to take His hand and allow Him to lead me through this new experience.
Lately I’ve been picking and choosing certain Bible reading plans on the YouVersion app to get back into being in His word on a daily basis. I started off reading Psalms every day and have since gone through Hebrews and am now in Revelation.
Even though I had previously read through the Bible for the first time ever back in 2014(?) – a great feat for me and something I am proud of because I never wanted to be a Christian who claimed to know the Bible but couldn’t take the time out to actually read the Bible in its entirety – I wanted to stay connected to His word. Going through Revelations this time though has been different in more ways than one.
What’s the difference between reading the Bible in traditional or digital form, and how could this experience shape your interaction with God?
Usually when I’m reading the Bible I use whatever Bible I’m currently using at the time, in whichever translation that’s challenging me at the moment, but from Psalms to Revelation I’ve been using my phone to read the Bible and it at first caused some conflicting emotions in me. Before I list why this experience troubled me so I’ll first state that there’s nothing wrong with using a Bible app as your dedicated Bible, if that helps you connect with God’s word go for it with no shame.
1: Reading the Bible digitally felt as if I was disconnected from God.
When you’re reading anything on your phone or tablet it’s so easy to get distracted by calls, texts, or the many notifications that pop up at any given time. So you can imagine reading your Bible digitally would be a futile effort if you can’t really focus on what you’re reading or what the Holy Spirit is trying to impart to you.
Around the time the YouVersion app (the only digital Bible I’ve used for the longest time) first surfaced in the Christian community – around the time I first became a Christian – I was skeptical. My first thought was, “what could this app or Bible reading experience give me that my traditional Bible couldn’t.”
It took many years for me to become comfortable with reading on my phone, computer, or tablet. The experience was a hard no for me to the point where I wouldn’t participate in any of the reading plan faithfully until recently because the experience wigged me out too much. But, it was the determination to use this tool that God allowed to enter the Christian community to help me connect with His word on the go that I sort of challenged myself to not allow the distractions that would come to infiltrate my quiet time with the Lord. I became so focused on what I was reading that everything else going on around me or on my device would melt away into the background so that I could refrain from being distracted.
2: I felt that if I didn’t read the Bible traditionally I wasn’t being a ‘good’ Christian.
I was raised Baptist and usually the first thing you see when you’re walking into the church on a Sunday morning are people with their Bibles in their hands, especially the older generation of the church. Naturally, as a new believer or someone who’s looking to see what the Christian ‘thing’ is all about you pick up on what you see and some small part of you draws a picture in your head that this is what Christians look like and do.
This was what I saw from a young girl to about 2014/2015 when the digital age for books and documents started to become the norm. So you can imagine the culture shock I had when people started attending church with no Bible in sight and were pulling their phones and/or tablets out to follow the pastor as they preached or to jot down notes while listening to the message. But for some reason I could never conform to the change that was taking place until now because it just didn’t feel right to how I had been condition and exposed to.
In a way I sort of worshiped my Bible and it wasn’t until last few years that the Lord has shown me who is God and what was not. While the words within the Bible are sacred, the physical form it takes in biblical form aren’t to become idols to us.
3: Using a digital Bible felt like a cop out or lazy way to engage with God’s word.
Using a traditional Bible doesn’t make you better than those who use digital Bibles, nor will you receive more blessings because you’ve chosen to carry your traditional Bible around with you as opposed to someone who only carries their phone knowing they’re just a tap away from engaging with God’s word. Feeling as if you’re taking the harder or easier road to God’s word is condemning yourself to never finding satisfaction or peace while reading what God has said or inspired; you’re doing the enemy’s job for him.
Do you honestly think that God cares how you get His word into your heart?
4: Using a digital Bible made me feel as if I was too ‘good’ to use a traditional Bible.
Just as I stated above, don’t fall into the trap of giving an object possession over you and your emotions. If you are a Christian the Holy Spirit resides within you and He’s literally the manifestation of God’s word in Spirit form.
If you’re feeling as if you’re hurting or betraying the ‘relationship’ between your Bible’s feelings because you chose to go digital for a day or indefinitely recognize that you’re idol worshiping an object and not bringing glory to God.
As you can see, while God provides many things to bring us closer to Him, the enemy will always find some way to discredit or distance us from what’s ours. I hope that this post helps you choosing how you want to spend your quiet time with God, or how you want to structure your study of His word. There’s nothing more precious than reading what He’s said or inspired and being able and comfortable enough to respond and interact with Him.