I want so desperately to share this with you, but I hesitate. Day after day, I let my heart sit with this weight of conviction, afraid to share at the cost of the inevitability that it will be overlooked. It will miss its mark for many. It will fall flat, fall on deaf ears, and be under appreciated. What would happen if I didn’t share it? Well, we aren’t going to find out.
A few months back, I laughed out loud when I saw an article with a title, in not so many words, proclaiming that a young writer (who, unfortunately, played a large role in my newly-Christian understanding of dating) apologizing for ever writing his book.
“Heck yeah he did!” I thought to myself. When I say that his book messed up a generation, I’m putting it lightly.
Then the other week I hear the shocking news of a worship leader from a very prominent and influential church has proclaimed that he no longer believes in God. That some how he is at peace with this. That there are things that no one talks about and that he can’t follow a God who would do these things. (He said much more than that, and not in those words. That’s just my summation, however accurate or inaccurate it might be). I’m stunned. How does this happen? Having followed Christ for over half of my life, I’m uncertain how a person can just decide that they don’t believe.
Last week I sat at my Chiropractor’s office, paging through a local magazine. I came upon an article singing the praises of a local woman who left her Evangelical church to pursue her own personal beliefs in God and self. This journey included leaving her husband, and coming to believe that there is no hell (only two of several things that left me feeling uneasy). I read some of her answers and found myself confused.
And lastly (for now), I was watching a favorite actor on the Tonight Show and he was asked what his one wish would be if he could have one. His answer: "to live Eternally.” Has no one told this famous guy about Jesus??
My confusion in all of these scenarios, I’ve since come to discover, comes to land solely on one thing: God’s Word.
My question for each of these individuals would be, “When you wondered, did you search for answers in God’s Word? How much of your faith (for those who had it) was founded on God's Word and not emotions or ideas about God presented by other leaders/teachers?” It may be hard for a non-believer to understand the relationship between a follower of Christ and God’s Word, but it is an endless ocean of discovery. How astrologers say we haven’t even begun to discover what is out there in the universe, so the same goes for this living and active Word.
So here are just a few of the “rebuttals”, if you will, that came to me without even looking for them. Please note: I am in no way boasting of my Biblical Theology abilities. Quite the contrary, actually. I am a 34 year old woman, who has been reading her Bible (albeit to varying degrees) for 18 years, and has come to know and experience in my own life the validity of this Word.
Firstly, to the author guy: I cannot say I remember the amount of Scripture that was used to back up his arguments that young Christians should not date unless they are pursuing marriage, and that when they do, they should not kiss until their wedding day (or something like that). I also am not judging anyone who holds this personal conviction. What I can say, is that throughout the Old and New Testament, it is made perfectly clear that the covenant of marriage is to be between a man and a woman, you are not to commit adultery, lusting leads to the previous command, and that marriage is a sacred relationship meant to model Christ’s relationship with the Church. I don’t know that I have ever read anything implying that dating is frowned upon by God, or that kissing equates to sexual intimacy. These are hot-button issues and I’m not here to debate. If you know of a verse in the New Testament (the NEW COVENANT, Glory, Hallelujah!) that says dating is frowned upon, I will eat my words.
Secondly, to the now-anti-worship guy: there were a few things mentioned that, quite frankly, left me scratching my head. I’m not sure how someone who has poured over Scripture to write the lyrics that have been written, would ask such questions. I am only left to wonder how firmly planted he was on Scripture. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. An oldie but a goodie. As a believer, we don’t just say, “I’m standing on Jesus!” and then never pursue the one place we can go to get to know Him. Standing is an action—it takes effort. Standing on Christ means putting forth the effort to be in God’s Word daily, and as we pursue Him there, we find Him—first in the places we expect to see Him, like the gospels and much of the New Testament, and then over time we find Him in the most unlikely places, like the minor prophets and Genesis through Numbers. So when you ask a question like, “how could a loving God send people to hell?” I’m left with far more that I know of God than what I don’t. He is a loving God and He is a Holy God. A far longer conversation for another day. On this and multiple other topics, I don’t have a pretty answer to tie up with a bow. But what I do have is this: "“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
He is God and I am not.
The depths and complexities of my own sin nature are far more than I can comprehend, nor do I want to. If this is true, how can I begin to understand the ways of a HOLY God who sees to the deepest parts of every single human being who has ever walked the earth? This is why I abide in His Word. There are too many things my small mind cannot understand, but what I do know is that I can trust Him. He has proven that through His Word and through my life.
Thirdly, to the god-is-me-and-you lady: One of her answers was that she doesn't know what she believes about eternity, but she "hopes there is justice". Not two days later, I’m reading through Zephaniah, of all places, and I read, “Every morning He delivers His judgement. He illuminates the right way to live.” (Zeph 3:5) You don’t need to hope. You can know that there will be justice, because God’s Word tells us so repeatedly. Justice is at the heart of God, so you needn’t worry if that will happen.
Aaaand lastly, famous actor guy: Imma send some fan-mail to you with John 3:16 written all over it. YOU CAN HAVE YOUR WISH GRANTED! AND NOT BY A GENIE—BY THE SON OF GOD WHO BECAME MAN, BORE OUR SIN AND DEATH, AND ROSE FROM THE GRAVE DEFEATING DEATH AND GIVING ALL THOSE WHO CALL ON HIS NAME LIFE ETERNAL! (Sorry for shouting, but what exciting news!). Maybe I should get Justin Bieber or Chris Pratt to give him a call. Tell him what’s up.
My point here is that God’s Word has to be the life source to your faith. The oxygen tube to your nose. The feeding tube to your mouth. The saline in your IV when you’re dehydrated (I’m running out of medical analogies). Don’t read the Word because it’s just what you’re supposed to do. Read it because it will save you, over and over and over again. When the questions rise in your heart and mind, the Spirit will bring His Word to save you. When life becomes overwhelming and your emotions are nearly strangling you, His Word is the only weapon that will pierce that darkness.
Matthew 7:24-27: "“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
And great was the fall of it.
My heart is broken at these people, who are just a few of many, who haven’t heard His Words enough to find themselves solid in the storm. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t say “enough” as in there’s a quota to meet. Enough means on-going. Forever. Daily bread. Never-ending. Day after day after day.
If you do not have a solid consumption of God’s Word in your life, and you are living your life as a believer of Christ, I implore you with every ounce of love and ferocity I have—start reading. I don’t care if it doesn’t make sense. I don’t care if it “doesn’t speak to you”. Read it, because one day it will. One day you will find yourself needing it as you need food and drink. You will find yourself understanding His Word long after you have read it, because the Spirit has locked it up inside of you for just that moment of revelation.
THIS is why it is Alive and active.
If you could know anything about my heart, it would be to know that I ache for believers to be rooted in God’s Word. Better than ANY OTHER BOOK YOU COULD EVER READ BY ANY OTHER AWESOME PREACHER, TEACHER, EVANGELIST, WHATEVER.
God’s Word First.
Here are some resources I love for deeper understanding/investigating as I read Scripture:
www.blueletterbible.org | go here for commentaries, original language definitions, cross-reference, and more
www.biblegateway.com | go here for multiple translations and to look up verses topically or by keyword
New City Catechism—http://newcitycatechism.com | This is a great resource for understanding the doctrine of Christianity. These foundational questions/answers will help navigate conversations you have with others and with the Lord.
Other resources I love for growing in my own understanding of the Bible:
Knowing Faith Podcast | A podcast by the Village Church, they explore Biblical Theology in a way that is understandable (most of the time ;) ) and often funny.
Author and Teacher Jen Wilkin | She has written multiple books and studies, but her book Women of the Word is a great starting point for understanding Biblical Theology.
Seamless by Angie Smith | This Bible study will walk you through understanding the Bible as one complete story.