Prepare yourself. I’m going to make some challenging statements.
I was recently asked the following question by a friend:
“What is the most important thing for a Christian right now, in the middle of all that’s going on?”
Some questions you have to mull over, ponder how to best respond. Especially a question as broad and open ended as the one above. However, without even a second of consideration, almost involuntarily, I answered…
Read the Bible. Meditate on it. Pray it. Recite it. Read some more. Journal about it.
Recently, I even went so far as to record myself reading scripture, and then putting background music to it with an app on my phone. That way I could listen to scripture.
I know, I know…my answer wasn’t exactly “profound”. Some might consider it quite cliche. Certainly it is advice that feels common…basic. Couldn’t I have come up with something more profound? However, by my observations, the last few months have revealed some things about believers, and it’s not all been good.
Alicia Britt Chole, my favorite author, talks in her book “Anonymous” about how challenging seasons, trials, big moments, reveal what we have been doing with our lives and with the Lord. It’s not so much that trials prepare you for coming seasons, more so trials reveal the nature of our devotion in prior seasons.
If that is the case, what have the last few months revealed about us?
While we are adept at posting memes of bible verses, I fear a relatively high percentage of us are not necessarily rooted in those scriptures. Rather than a rich resource that forges our belief system, scripture has become more of a social media marker that says, “Hey, I’m a christian.” Scripture has become something we post, as a bit of an identifier to others that we have Christian tendencies, rather than a vital formative force which melds our identity into Christlikeness.
To truly, deeply believe scripture is for it to be the filter through which all information is received. Then said information is subjected to the scrutiny of what God has said. The information is held accountable by scripture, not the other way around.
Simply asked, what has the greatest influence on us?
Our emotions are to be more deeply influenced by the Bible than our circumstances. Fear, frustration, agitation, annoyance, anger…scripture has a rebuttal for them all. The Bible has paths which lead us out of these valleys into His pinnacles of virtue.
Our responses to news should demonstrate that we believe the report of the Lord over the report of the media. To be clear, that is not a “fake news” statement. That is just the foundational understanding for the believer…that the Good News is superior to all other news. This is not a denial of reality, but the revelation of a greater, eternal reality. Our reactions…those default, without time to get ourself together reactions…reveal what is fueling our soul.
Our thinking…how we think about the issues plaguing society…are either born of the fertile soil of scripture, or out of the cradle of self-centeredness, self-preservation, or even prejudice.
Our imagination either gravitates toward the promised lands of God or toward the worst case scenarios.
For the last couple of years I have been a part of a writing project for the fellowship of which I am an ordained minister (AG). Our fellowship recognized in recent years that many in the church are not as engaged with scripture as they should be. Therefore, we launched the Bible Engagement Project [BEP]. I mention this because of the key word, engagement.
More than ever, followers of Jesus must become consistently diligent in consuming the Bible. I say this, not implying that you should read the entire bible in 90 days. It’s more important that we ENGAGE the Bible…that we ponder its content…that we wrestle with its precepts…that we allow its principles to confront our ideas about how life works…to contend with our established thought patterns.
In the midst of the turbulence, the chaos of society, the scriptures can become an anchor for your soul.
God bless every song that has ever been written for the glory of God, but every song written (for the most part), has its genesis in a concept found in scripture. Listen to the music, it without a doubt helps, but be careful that you are not allowing the artist to do the hard work of mining the word of God on your behalf.
The older I get, the longer I am in this life of faith, the more times I read a particular book of the Bible, the deeper my affections are for the great truths therein. I have more life context now. I have watched as time and time again His principles work. I have experienced how the application of biblical protocols enlist the supernatural activity of God.
I am absolutely convinced, if you want to thrive in 2020, your Bible needs to become more than a convenient guidebook. It needs to become your dear friend.