“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”—–Deuteronomy 8:3
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”—–Matthew 4:4
“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”—–1 Peter 2:1-3
I guess a good place to start is by asking ourselves, “Do I long to spend time reading and studying the Bible??” I think if we are truly honest with ourselves the real answer is probably along the lines of, “I can do better”. With so many things, each seeking more and more of our time, and especially during the holiday months, all of us make excuses why we don’t spend personal time in God’s Word.
One of the great reminders that I have from time to time comes from the Holy Club questions that was led by John Wesley. At each meeting they would go around and ask one another a list of questions to see how each person was living out their faith. One question they would ask was, “Did the Bible live in me today??” This question often makes me reflect on not only if I spent time reading and studying the Bible, but also how I am applying to my life what the Bible teaches.
Many today are continuing to embrace lies about finding truth in extra-biblical sources. Pastors are also leading the charge by pointing people to mystical experiences and feelings in order to “sense” God’s presence. People are told that one can know God at a deeper level if they participate in “spiritual disciples” or “spiritual formation” exercises that are rooted in ancient practices. These may sound great as they lead people to believe that growth in the Lord is gained through these practices, but the truth is that they are far from what is taught throughout the Bible. People often try and use the Bible to support these extra-biblical practices, but they end up twisting and taking verses far out of context.
I think what we are seeing is that people really do have a desire to have a deeper faith and relationship with the Lord, but we have to ask ourselves at what cost?? Instead of trying to find ways for a quick fix or other excuses for why we don’t personally spend time in the Word, as believers we must return to learning and applying the Bible to our lives. We cannot rely on someone at a pulpit on Sunday mornings to be sufficient for our time in the Bible and especially when the Bible is being compromised like crazy there as well.
When so much time is consumed by books, catch phrases, quotes, and the like rather than on the Truth of the Word, we have a huge problem. People end up pulling from many varied sources, inside to even way outside Christianity, into a build-your-own-faith and simply call it, Christian. At churches, people would rather hear the 3 “R’s” from a passage rather than the hard work of systematically going through the clear message of the passage and applying it to our lives. And when people spend more time “Liking”, “Commenting”, and “Re-Tweeting” things on Facebook and Twitter and then eagerly waiting to hear what pastors and authors are coming up with next, we should be greatly ashamed.
Somewhere along the line it seems we have bought into the lie that the Bible is too tough to understand and that interpretation of the Bible should only be left to those that have been ordained pastors and have been seminary educated. This was a huge deal in history before the printing press and the Bible being translated into people’s native languages. The Catholic church held the belief that it was only the priests and those in charge over them that could make sense of Scripture. When the printing press was invented and people began translating the Bible into other languages, this became a problem to the point where control was being lost and the average person could now have their own printed copy of the Bible in their own language. The average man could then read and seek to understand the Bible on their own and this threat carried out into the time of the Protestant Reformation where many then sought to return to the trusting in the Bible alone for Truth.
Today, people often have multiple copies of the Bible in their homes. Even those that don’t consider themselves Christians many times have at least one Bible. But how many people actually open them, let alone read them or even study them?? Many have freely given up the responsibility of spending time in the Word and rely on others to tell them what it says. Why would anyone give up this responsibility and whole heartedly trust another fallen human being to tell them the Truth when the cost of our eternal life is at stake?? Wouldn’t we want to know for certain ourselves that what is being taught is being taught correctly and in the context for what it was intended?? No wonder such strange doctrines are being embraced today; because we are not willing to do the work to check out and know the Bible for ourselves.
From the passages of Deuteronomy, Matthew, and 1 Peter quoted above, we see a true mark of a believer in Jesus is a hunger for God’s Word. Physical food may provide sustenance for a time and for ourselves physically, but our true life, our eternal life, is only through faith and obedience to God’s Word alone. We must all stop making excuses and seeking other ways around the Bible, but must faithfully return to the simplicity of knowing, seeking to understand, and applying Scripture to our lives. Let’s all seek to get to the place where just as we have need for physical food to live, we hunger for God’s Word all the more.