Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why Study the Bible?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freeditigalphotos.net
You ever read something and felt so much conviction it's like God was slapping you with the pages? Not that He would ever do that (lol), but you know how you read something and it was exactly for you? I recently had a situation like this and I would like to share it with y'all.

I was visiting a small group that was discussing Francis Chan's book called "Multiply Movement". It's funny because I have this book at home and I plan on reading it after the million other books I have on my dresser.(The list keeps growing. :) ) Francis Chan also is my favorite preacher and author. If you never heard of him check him out. Any who back to my story, the topic from the book was "How to Study the Bible". When I first saw the topic I was excited and thought "Nice I always like hearing about new ways to study the Bible". Little did I know it was much more than what I thought. 

The discussion began by asking everyone why do we study the Bible. Initially I thought " Why not study?". Then I remember, "This is a Francis Chan book, therefore jumping to conclusion is not the thing to do". Francis starts the book by explaining the importance of studying the bible (Note: reading and studying are two completely different things) and he continues by asking the first question:

Question 1: Before you go any further, feel free to share with the group why you study the Bible. Don't be overly optimistic with this: try to asses your heart. When you pick up the Bible and begin to read it, what is motivating you? Are you driven by guilt? Do you have a desire to know God more fully? Are you looking for arguments against other perspectives? Are you looking for material for a Bible study or sermon? 

Whoa! Can I keep it 100 with y'all? I fall into all these categories. Sometimes I am driven by guilt because I haven't open and read my bible in a few days. During these times, I think to myself, "Let me get a good passage in since it's been a few days." Other times, I really enjoy reading the Bible because I feel so close to God and love learning about Him. I also enjoy reading His word because God shows me myself good and bad so it gives me the chance to have a heart check. Then there are other times when I am looking for a particular passage for a small group or discussion. YIKES!

Image Courtesy of Matt Banks/freeditigalphotos.net
After answering the first question, Francis goes into discussing the wrong reasons to studying the bible. The two main reasons are guilt and status. I have definitely fell into the guilt category when life gets too busy. I would make reading the bible a part of my checklist instead of something that I really enjoyed. Francis says, "Very often this guilt is connected with legalism. We create our own standard (i.e. I have to read x chapters per day) and then hold ourselves to it, never stopping to consider that God has not placed this standard on us, we have places it on ourselves." WHOA!!! Might want to read that again. So true! Then there is status. Where some people want to know the bible because of status. Come on we all know that person or maybe we are that person who thinks they are the boss because they know scripture. Francis states, "God is pleased when we treasure His Word, but do you really think He is pleased with your desire to appear intelligent? Does your desire to be the go-to-guy who is never stumped really bring Him glory? What about your desire to be recognized as the best or the most spiritual person in the room?" Whoa Francis you cutting deep!

I promise I am going to bring this all together in the end just stick with me, keep reading. 

Next, Francis goes into approaching the mind of God. He talks about focus more on God's character than His capabilities. Meaning  when we read the Bible go to the text naked and let it dress us. DEEP! Go to the text with an open mind and let God reveal things to you. Francis states, "Every time you find yourself struggling to accept something the Bible says, you've found an area of your life that needs to be brought into submission to Christ." 

Also Francis talks about right motivation makes all the difference. Then he ask the second question:

Question 2: Rather than thinking about all of the arrogant people you know, take a minute to consider, whether or not your efforts in studying the Bible have simply puffed you up. How has studying the Bible changed you? Are you more arrogant, argumentative, or judgmental?

I can definitely relate to all of these when I'm acting out in the flesh. This occurs when I feel like I want to answer everyone's question, which can be very argumentative and arrogant. On the flip side, reading the Bible has transformed my life. It has showed me what love, kindness, and forgiveness truly are so I can implement them into my own life.

The last part I would like to discuss is where Francis addresses prayer and understanding. He talks about how important prayer is when trying to understand scripture. Ignoring the need to be in tune with God while reading shows no dependence on the Holy Spirit. "It is a mentality of complete self-reliance." Does this mean that you can't read the Bible to address questions? Or within small groups? Not at all. God is always among us. However, we must check our motivation, pray, and be in tune with God. 

What does this mean for me? Well, everything! I have study the Bible for the wrong reasons, to arrogantly wanting to answer everyone's question, to not submitting to Christ, and leaning on the Holy Spirit. I experienced all of this especially while preparing for Africa.

So much of God's love being poured into me!
Playing with my new loves!
Many people who did missions before told me the importance of being spiritually prepared for the trip. As I was preparing for the trip by fasting, praying, etc., I felt myself get worried. I thought I would never be prepared. There was always a sermon I wish I would have watched, a chapter in the Bible I wish I would have read, and many other things I wish I would have done before my trip. Guess what? I was looking at my preparation like a checklist. Every time I opened a book or the Bible it was because I wanted to sound spiritual in Africa or because I felt guilty. It wasn't because I desired to know God more fully. Submission and relying on God was the last thing on my mind.

A week before my trip, God tripped me as I was walking down the street. LOL jk I tripped on my own, but He told me to stop trying to do it alone. God didn't want me to feel prepared because He wants me to lean on Him every step of the way. I needed to trust the preparation I did do so He will show me how to use the tools, lead me, and guide me. I had to check my heart and ask myself do I really trust Him whether it's reading the Bible or having a conversation with someone? Do I believe the Holy Spirit is there with me? The last week before my trip I had so much peace. I knew God would be there with me and every time I opened the Bible, read a book, or listened to a sermon I did it with a desire to know God more and not to understand everything or have all the answers. I am not saying that I am perfect, but I thank God for showing me myself! Now I strive everyday to lean on Him and submit my everything to Him not just reading the Bible.

Take the time to ask yourself two questions above and don't get discourage if you don't like what you hear. Use it as motivation to search your heart.

Maybe you don't believe in the Bible and this makes no sense to you. Our advice for you is to keep asking questions. Don't let anyone even us Christians discourage you. When you run into a person is mean to you because you are questioning the Bible move on and ask the next person. This is serious. It is about your faith, but most of all your eternity. Check out this video below that might be helpful. 


No comments:

Post a Comment