How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
[Psa 119:103-105 NIV]
As humans, we will usually take the easy route if we can find it. That’s why we live in a fast food culture. We want our food prepared for us, wrapped up neatly so that it’s convenient for eating on the go, and we want it now. The problem is, the easy route doesn’t always take us where we want to go. If all we ever eat is a steady stream of chicken nuggets, tacos, and heat-lamp burgers we won’t ever have to work very hard to get a meal, but we certainly won’t be very healthy.
Sometimes I think this is how we treat the Word of God. We want somebody else to carefully prepare it, package it in an organized and concise format, and deliver it to us at our convenience. That is not a slam against good sermons or organized teachers – it is obvious that God uses teachers and their messages to build and mature His Church. What we have to be careful of, is becoming reliant on other people’s interpretations of the Scriptures as opposed to the Scriptures themselves.
It is often easier for us to click a link or read about what someone else learned from the Bible than it is for us to dig in and study the Word ourselves. This isn’t bad in moderation, but if we aren’t careful, we run the risk of functionally removing the actual Scriptures from our lives and replacing them with man’s commentary on the Scriptures.
It would be devastating for us, as individuals and communities, to forget the power of engaging with the Father through the reading and studying of His word. If this is something we begin to reserve only for the “paid professionals,” we will quickly become a people that is intimidated by the Bible. We will start to feel like we are inadequate and unable to derive and apply truth on our own. We will, essentially, be contracting out the Holy Spirit’s work in us to other men and women, hoping that they can provide all of the teaching and rebuking that we need. We will have taken a giant step backwards.
That would be tragic and we would absolutely be missing out, because the words of the Lord are sweeter than honey like the Psalm says. Sometimes hearing them and allowing them to work in us can be difficult, but the payoff is absolutely life-giving – as Jesus reminds us when he quotes from Deuteronomy, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” He knew the importance of the Scriptures and the importance of hearing God speak through them. I believe that he wants the same for us.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t listen to sermons or read books. I think it’s great to listen to lots of good sermons and read lots of good books – we’ll even be suggesting some in the weeks to come. It is awesome that we have nearly instant access to so many great teachers and writers, we are truly blessed. But it is essential that we learn to interact with the Father through the truth that He has given us in the Scriptures. Because, however gifted the best communicators and scholars that mankind has to offer might be, the Holy Spirit is the best in the universe at teaching, growing, and rebuking us. We can trust Him. We don’t need to be apprehensive or intimidated about studying the Bible, we just need to rely on Him.
Throughout the year, we hope to be able to provide you with some good teaching (either through blog posts, conferences, or videos), but our desire would be that these resources would serve to get you excited about you relationship with God and to drive you deeper into the Scriptures on your own. Every so often, we’ll pass on tools or ask questions that we hope will help you engage with the Bible in meaningful ways. I’ll be posting the first of those next Monday (Sept. 9), so stay tuned!
If there is any way that we can be of service to you, please let us know!
Creative/Ministry Development Coordinator