Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Find Your Purpose: Discipleship
What National League MVP played third base for the Atlanta Braves in 1991? Random knowledge such as the answer to the previous question completely fills the minds of many, many people. The topics vary, but the knowledge that people have is often astounding. Whether its sports, pop-culture, history, engines, or just the latest gossip, it is hard to miss the fact that people are willing to fill their heads with all kinds of facts, figures, and philosophies. That is, until it comes to understanding God's Word. When it comes to knowing scripture, much less doing it, far too many people who claim the name of Christ are completely ignorant of what His Word says.
We are IGNORANT, UNLEARNED, AND LAZY WHEN IT COMES TO GOD'S WORD.
Yeah, I said it and I can back it up.
I want you to ask yourself a couple of questions right now:
1. Have I read the entire Bible?
2. Do I have a working knowledge of the individual books of the Bible? (as in, what is the theme of the book of Romans, Ephesians, 1 John, Ezekiel, etc...)
If you cannot answer those questions with a YES, then ask yourself the next logical question:
Let me answer the second question for you. Because it hasn't been as important to you as it should. Before you close your browser window and stop reading, I said it hasn't been AS IMPORTANT as it should be. I am not calling your Christian faith, your love of God, or the value God's word has in your life into question. I am merely saying, if knowing and understanding God's Word were more important than knowing who God voted off of American Idol then you would be willing to carry the cross of discipleship and learn the most important words you will ever read.
Instead, most people only touch their Bible on Sunday morning while a few include Sunday night and Wednesday night and then it is normally just to read a verse or two completely out of context.
You see, God's Word is a wonderful thing, but it takes work. You have to want it. You have to want it bad because scripture is going to challenge you on multiple levels. It is going to challenge your values, your assumptions, your intellect and your commitment.
It isn't going to come easily.
It isn't going to come easily!
There is a degree of academic style learning and reading that has to go into learning scripture. You have to read it to know it. You have to know it to understand it and you have to understand it to do it. And so we enjoy quoting James 1:22 (Be not hearers of the word only, but be doers) but we don't quite understand everything that goes into that. If you want to know God, you have to seek Him out with all of your heart and that means seeking Him out through scripture.
But here is the key:
We have to let scripture speak for itself. We can't pick and choose a verse here and there and say "I know God's word." One of the most known and misunderstood verses in all of scripture is Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Most of the time, this verse is used to affirm that God is going to give you abilities and bless you supernaturally to thrive and get ahead. People often use the verse as a way to make up for shortcomings in life and to claim that God is going to give us supernatural abilities outside of ourselves so all we have to do is wait for God to move.
This couldn't be more off base with what Paul is talking about in this passage.
If you look at the surrounding verses, something called "context", you will see that Paul talking about God giving him the strength to be faithful no matter what the circumstances. Whether well fed or hungry, in abundance or in need, Paul had learned to rely on Christ for strength to ENDURE anything. This is a far cry from the way we use this verse today.
Why did we just do that little Bible study? Because it illustrates just how important a working knowledge of an ENTIRE BOOK of the Bible is to understanding it.
Do you want to know God? Know his Word.
Do you want purpose in life? Live God's word.
Do you want God to use you? Train YOURSELF in His Word.
If you start learning scripture, you will also find that the Sunday Morning sermons will probably become more interesting and useful because you will be able to interact with what your pastor is saying. Instead, too many people use the sermon as their only time in God's Word for the week. Do you eat food once a week? Then why would you only read God's Word once a week?
Discipleship is not optional. If you claim the title of Christian and say that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you have a responsibility to learn His Word so you can live by it. So next time you are pondering the deep questions of life and come up with answers like "Terry Pendleton" (he was the MVP who played third base for the Atlanta Braves in 1991) I hope you will reconsider how you are expending your mental energies. Are you filling your mind with God's Word or are you filling it with something else?
Make a commitment to learn and live the scriptures that will take you Above Reality.