Here’s half a plea to people who are well-established in their Christian faith: keep listening.
(The second half of this plea is really quite similar, and will be a separate post. But I’ll give you a hint: it’s keep listening.)
There’s something I’ve noticed in Bible study groups, general Christian conversation, sermons (live and on-line), social media posts, … People who I consider as solid Christian people using the Bible very loosely.
Perhaps they throw a single Bible phrase at a complex problem as if it solves the whole question. Perhaps they rote-speak a big Bible idea (‘Christ died for us’) as if we need to say this so the conversation can get to the really interesting stuff. Perhaps they hijack a Bible passage to use it as a hook for their latest hobby horse (and ignore what the passage really says). Or perhaps they complete a Bible study with no need of a Bible – every comment is a pre-digested ‘lump’ of theology dutifully regurgitated.
Preachers become enamoured with some philosophy, or the major ’cause’. Committed church members find more pleasure in serving that learning. Initial Christian instruction feels like enough thought to last a lifetime. The activity of life makes slow pondering feel like a waste of what’s precious, our time.
Whatever form it takes, my (half) plea comes from this observation: I see solid Christians lose the wonderful joy of discovering new things in God’s word.
I understand how we can become almost too familiar with some Bible words. ‘You must be born again.’ ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’ ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’
When we feel this over-familiarity, we need to remember the problem is in us. These truths are still wonderful, still life-giving, still refreshing. Every passage is newly a challenge – even if it’s most familiar.
See how the delight of the psalmist brackets active dedication to meditation on the Lord’s teaching:
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
Let’s not just see this delight and meditation in our printed Bibles. Let’s see it also in ourselves – and all the more as we mature in faith. Keep listening!