If you want to grow plants in a garden, you have to spend some time working with the soil. Reading the Bible is a bit like that – to grow a fruitful life with God, you have to get your hands dirty with the Bible. It can be fascinating and an endless source of fresh shoots of inspiration although, to be fair, it will also sometimes feel like hard work and you will find questions as well as answers.
It is definitely worth having a physical copy of the Bible (on Amazon.co.uk you can pick them up for as little as 1p plus postage!). It is a holy book but it is also a book to use so don’t be afraid to jot down notes, add highlights and whatever else you need to work with it.
The original languages of the Bible were ancient versions of Greek and Hebrew, so you will probably need to read it in translation. A widely-used, modern translation is the New International Version (NIV) but, if you get more serious about exploring it, you probably want some different translations (for example, The Message).
You can also access the Bible online (try https://www.biblegateway.com/) and get apps for your phone (such as YouVersion). These let you switch between lots of translations so you can compare them. Some translations even have audio versions so you can try listening as well as reading.
Unlike most books, the beginning is not always the best place to start in the Bible – it is a library of short books rather than one long, single book although you will find many threads tying them together. The four gospels – the eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus – are ideal as a way in. Look for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the contents page. As we come to the end of the year, the first couple of chapters of Matthew and Luke and the first chapter of John might be ideal, giving you an access all areas pass to the Nativity story!