Just this week I had the pleasure of speaking with a pastor friend of mine in India. We have been speaking and praying with each other for little over a year now. I cannot help but feel encouraged every time I have the privilege of speaking with him. Following our conversations, I am often reminded of the many blessings we have in the United States. I am also reminded of how much we take for granted as well. I am not merely speaking in terms of physical goods. I am talking of our spiritual heritage.
How many of you reading this article have a Bible in your home? How many of you have the gift of literacy? These are two gifts rarely shared by many individuals to whom my dear brother ministers in the remote villages of India. We have so much, yet we care so little. Why is it? We are too often drunk with the wine of apathy and assumption. We may be too self-absorbed to concern ourselves with the things of God. Or we assume that we know all that we need to know. Do we really treasure the Scriptures as much as they deserve?
When was the last time we looked at Scripture as precious, useful, and our only guide? We ought to value the Bible as someone lost in desert would treasure their water. We ought to delight in our Bibles as much as we cherish seeing friends from years gone by. But it must be more than that, for the Bible was never meant to be an end in and of itself. The Bible is a means of grace, and as a means, it is not an end. The Bible is likened unto a straw that allows us to drink in deeply all that God has provided for us. He has provided comfort, joy, sobering warnings, redirection, life in and of itself. But what are we doing with it? If you commit yourself to a solely academic, or literary, or duty-bound reading of Scripture – you are missing the point.
The Bible is the great treasure of the Church because it teaches us what God is like in ways that we could never know on our own. There are some things we can know about God apart from Scripture, for “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1 ESV) But as Thomas Aquinas wrote, “some truths about God exceed all the ability of the human reason…” (SCG 3.2) In other words, we need God’s Word to know Him more fully. In addition, we need God’s Word to know ourselves more fully.
I have to admit my friends, I do not always desire to read Scripture. Apathy and assumption are dinner guests that often dine with pastors, as well as parishioners; of this, we must both repent. But repentance involves turning to God. We don’t make a blanket resolution to read the Bible, and then settle our scores by thoughtlessly reading. We admit our passionless estate before God in prayer. We ask for help from Him alone who can provide a Spiritual fire to our cold, brittle hearts. Why does He do that?
God delights in helping His people. That is the point we so often forget. We think of God as demanding. We think of God as taxing, and even crushing at points. We forget to let Him speak for Himself. We need only turn to the words of Paul who prayed for the church, in general, but you in particular, “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:17-19 ESV)
Is this love of Christ grounding your Christianity today? If not, what has taken its place? Do you have a hope that walks with you in the darkest of life’s seasons? Does the sweetness of Christ’s abiding presence abound within you as the sweetest thing in your world? The Lord is good. His love is unfailing. His mercies are new every morning. His inheritance for the saints is without precedent. The love God has for you in Christ is inestimable. This is what we find spoken of in His glorious book. So let us open its pages again. Let us pray for God’s help in reading it well. But let also not read it in isolation, but with the Church, God’s family and Christ’s body.
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