Why should Christians read?

Why should Christians read?

When I got married, I discovered that I really didn't know myself as much as I thought. By living a life in direct and constant contact with another human being very different from myself, my quirks and tendencies rose to the forefront. Marriage forced me to see the world from a wholly different persons eyes.

This is incredibly jarring and takes a bit of getting used to, but it's result is very good. To be honest, I think the introspection that happens through the juxtaposition of your life with another is a necessary part of moral growth. And part of why God made marriage in the first place.

Reading, like marriage, gives you this same experience.

C. S. Lewis, in An Experiment in Criticism, wrote:

We realise it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough.

Reading fiction in particular, and reading in general, gives you eyes to see things you would have never seen before. Reading allows you to see through another's eyes. It gives you perspective. It lifts you out of your tiny world and helps you to see more than you.

This is incredibly important for the Christian. We know we are not the center of life, we know this world is about much more than us. Christ died for all, not just for you.

We also know we tend toward selfishness — that we are not inclined to think of others. So it is our job to make sure our worldview is not based simply on our own experiences and ideas. Looking through the lens of another allows you to jump out of your tiny perspective and into a world closer to the truth.

Fiction takes this a step further. It gives us an opportunity to look not only at our world, but at what our world could be. It gives a us another world by which we can juxtapose our own culture, revealing its quirks and helping it to grow, just like a man and his wife.

This, I think, is why God has chosen to speak to us through a book. It reveals the importance of looking through another persons eyes, of stepping out of our own world. Not only did God speak through a book, but through 40 different authors, spread out through 2000 years and three continents, and in many different styles of writing. The Bible is overflowing with perspective. It gives us an example, showing us the benefit of seeing through different eyes.

Our own eyes are not enough. We need others to truly see reality. When you read, you do just that. You jump out of your tiny world, your prison, and you see the world for what it truly is, and what it could be.

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