Can I ask you a question? Now, I’m going to warn you, answering it might make you uncomfortable – but before you click away, I’d like to encourage you to consider what the Lord might be saying to you as you mediated on the answer to my question.
Ok, here goes… When is the last time that you’ve been rebuked while studying God’s word? Have you ever felt so deeply impacted by something you learned in the scriptures that you’ve felt moved to change what you’re doing or rearrange your thinking on something? How often does the Word of God cause you to look inwards with humility and a desire to change the things that are blocking you from going deeper with God?
Ouch – those are big questions!
So often in 21st century Christianity, we look at our bibles as Holy Buffet spreads – we choose the things we like and pass by the things we don’t. So many of us (myself included) use our bibles as inspirational quote books rather than a living testament to our Salvation and a way to bring us closer to knowing our Heavenly Father. We search for specific verses to fit our situations and skip over the context of the surrounding verses that help us better understand God instructions for us in every situation.
“… and now from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. (2 Timothy 3:15-17; New International Version)
2 Timothy 3:15-17 tells us that God has breathed each an every word of Scripture – making all verses relevant to some aspect of teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. Rather than being a cosmic buffet, the Bible can act as a sort of mirror, reflecting who we truly are and showing us the truth of our salvation (James 1:22-25). By turning our perspectives inwards, and applying the complete weight of God’s message to our own hearts, we might find that we are encouraged to change; we may even find we’re inspired to make our own lives a better reflection of Christ through our actions, our values, and our relationships. I’ll be the first it admit, sometimes it hurts to change – sometimes those changes are hard and scary and require us to get uncomfortable. But when we “build our lives on the Rock” of God’s word, without passing on parts or making substitutes for His message, we experience the encouragement, grace, and hope that are so often the focus of those “Inspirational Quote” verses, but with the depth and breadth originally intended by God (Matthew 7:7-12; 24-27). If you’re willing to dig in and be changed by it, God’s word is timeless (Isaiah 40:8), and has a deep resounding relevance that applies to all stages of life (Hebrews 4;12-13) – often in new, exciting, and challenging ways.
“Do not fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God – the free life!- even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is not scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.”
(James 1:22-15; The Message).
So, I ask again, when’s the last time you were taught, rebuked, corrected, or trained during your time in the Bible? Maybe it’s time to move away from buffet-style Christianity and dig deep into God’s word; to give it permission to change you – even if it hurts.