Sunday, I asked my wife out for a movie date. After the busyness of a full weekend of travel and ministry, I thought it would be a great way to wind down before Monday made its way back around. Going to the movie theater for a show on the big screen is one of my favorite things in life to do, and she is my favorite movie-going partner. She agreed. I bought the tickets and pre-ordered food to be delivered to our seats when we arrived.
I picked her up at the church at 6:00 p.m. when her ministry commitments for the day were done. We were just a short trip from the theater for our 6:15 p.m. show. Or so I thought. I completely failed to factor into our plans that this weekend was NASCAR weekend in Fontana, CA where our church is. Once I got on the freeway headed west, I realized what a brutal mistake I’d made. Race fans, after a day of high speeds, brought the traffic to a crawl. It was clear that we were not going to make it by 6:15, and we’d be lucky to make 6:35. We would not only miss the trailers for movies that are coming soon, but we would also likely miss the beginning of the movie we were planning to see.
One thing you may not know about me, I hate to be late. Now, I know you might be thinking, Brian, you’re late a lot. Yeah, sure, but I hate it. And of all the things I hate to be late to the most, a movie is at the top of the list! I have such a strong reaction to it. I get fidgety and anxious. I begin to mentally and verbally outline all the ways the experience is going to suck, which usually ends in a decision to stay home, or in this case turn around and go home. (Confession: If I ever didn’t show up to something where you expected me to make an appearance, it’s probably because I was running late and just decided not to go through with it.) I would rather speak in public than walk into a movie late, even if I’ve already seen it! But I pushed through the anxiety, and we made our way toward the theater as quickly as possible.
The end result? We missed the first 2-3 minutes of the movie. In the grand scheme of things, it made no difference at all. We were there in time for the delivery of our dinner, and the movie hadn’t introduced any characters yet. And still, if I’m honest, I was a little irked by arriving late.
Why does it bother me so much? I’ve thought about it and came to the conclusion that I like to get the whole story. A good story has essential elements throughout. And missing some of those key elements in the beginning or even in the middle (I don’t leave to go to the restroom during a movie either unless I’m going to explode.) just feels wrong to me. The line isn’t drawn at movies. I won’t start watching a television show mid-season, I don’t skip pages or chapters in books, and I listen to record albums all the way through, in order, at least once. It’s the only way to truly capture the vision of the creator and to accurately judge whether I like it or not.
This is how I feel about the Bible. It drives me nuts when I hear people share negative opinions about the Bible when they haven’t read it in its entirety. On the other hand, it makes me equally crazy when I hear people speaking positively about the Bible with the same level of ignorance. They don’t know the whole story, but they form an opinion on the few verses they’ve seen on t-shirts and coffee mugs, ignoring the whole revelation of God in his word. The Bible isn’t an operation manual where we turn to the section addressing our problem in hopes of a solution. It is the revelation of Almighty God, his character, his purpose in creation, his plan of redemption, his heart for his people.
So, while I do study individual sections in-depth for preaching and teaching, I also read through the entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation, each year. I believe it is important to know where that chapter or verse I read on a day-to-day basis fit into the entire story. So, I encourage my church and others not to neglect the whole story of the Bible. For those who have given a review of God, Jesus, and/or Christianity based on part of the story from the book, the church, and/or the individual believer, please consider withholding judgment until you get the whole story.