Many people desire a deeper walk with the Lord. This is very admirable. I have seen those in my generation yearning for more than what they have been finding. And it isn’t only my generation, but also a growing number of all ages. In this search, it leads people to many different destinations; some good and Biblical, others disguised as such.
There is much to be said about all the dangerous destinations that may seem “Christian”, but one area that is concerning is something that I call “Biblical Mining”. This Biblical Mining can be defined as a unending search for a greater, more spiritual understanding of the Bible. At the core is a discontentment that there always has to be some hidden knowledge that lies beneath the surface if we only spent more time discovering these “truths”.
When reading or studying a passage of Scripture, a person begins to read into or even beyond what is being said right before them. This can lead to many serious errors as well as never feeling you have done enough. In search of this greater understanding, a person may spend time reading through many different commentaries, jumping from one cross reference to another, seeking out the passage in the original language, looking up words in concordances, reading and studying other versions of the Bible, reading other books, and so on and so on.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for greater depth of study. But if this is the constant pattern every time you open the Bible, you are probably more likely to miss the clear message the Lord has right in front of you. In other words, most times, a Sycamore tree is simply a Sycamore tree. Not everything we read has to have some deeper symbolism or meaning that needs our uncovering.
Enough is never enough.
My concern with this mentality is that it leads to burnout among the individual and the feeling of inadequacy from those they are around. The constant striving for more by feeling like others are not pushing on with the Lord like you are, ends up wearing everyone involved out. This goes for Bible study, to prayer, worship, and everything else in the life of a believer and the Church.
As believers we need to encourage and challenge each other to continue to grow in our faith. We also need each other so that we don’t fall into the ditches of either becoming complacent or having a zeal that goes beyond the practical application of our faith. In doing so, we keep a steady balance of growing in the Lord without feeling that we aren’t “going deep enough”.
Those that continue along the path of Biblical Mining often end up falling into extra-biblical practices. When their reading and studying of Scripture no longer satisfies, they may turn to seeking experiences that can give them a greater sense of spiritual depth. These experiences most likely will lead them to Contemplative Spiritual Mysticism (CSM). They might include things like Lectio Divina, some form of quiet “listening”, or many other unbiblical things. All in the hope of this “deeper” search of God.
You can begin to see how something like wanting to dive deeper in the Bible can end in many heretical beliefs and practices. It may start off with pure motives and then along the way, carries you away from the Lord. You can also see that without discernment and being grounded in the truth of the Bible, how people can end up twisting and quoting actual passages to support their beliefs. But we must be careful and be on guard so as to not be swept away.
Good solid time reading and studying the Bible is critical for all followers of Jesus. There are times when we may not understand the context of a passage or need some other resources to help give us a more clear understanding of what we are reading. The goal must always remain the same; what the Lord would have us learn from the passage. Instead of always digging for “spiritual nuggets”, we must remain committed to the clear plain reading of Scripture and not some obscure figurative understanding. If we find ourselves always looking for outside sources or having to jump from one passage to make sense of another, we will end up losing sight of what we were originally reading and studying. It might be a good challenge to try and park ourselves in the passage to try and make sense of the context before thinking we needing to jump elsewhere.
What I think we may often overlook is that in our day to day walk with the Lord is that it may not provide some “feeling” of greater spiritual fulfillment. It would seem this is one of Satan’s great tools to make us feel like we aren’t doing or going deep enough, but will ultimately lead us beyond what we are taught in Scripture. When we come to grips with simply spending time in the Word, prayer, worship, and living our lives for the Lord, we will find rest in knowing that although we haven’t yet arrived, we keep plugging along each day with the Lord.
It is a great thing to desire a deeper relationship with the Lord. It is also a great thing to want to dive deeper into the Bible. But we must be careful so we don’t fall into this mentality of Biblical Mining which ultimately doesn’t find contentment. May we each seek to grow and encourage one another as we continue to walk with the Lord each day.