Reading the Bible is Not Enough

We intentionally try to carve out an hour each morning to have family and personal Bible time. As all good plans go, it is easier said than done. I often fail to resist being pulled away – checking my phone, pausing sentence to write a note to myself about something unrelated. Someone may be cranky, another wants to sleep in, the house is filled with distracting noise, the weather is coaxing us to push aside our plans to get outdoors. I know this is a relatable human experience, to have something important that we must prioritize, but have a deficit in our attention to it.

In the last few weeks, I’ve pondered often on the idea of daily Bible time. I don’t think we face much criticism for reading the Bible, and frankly, I don’t think reading the Bible is all that difficult if all you’re doing is reading it…aside from overcoming the hurdle of distractions (which is not an experience limited to just Christians).

The first struggle I think that Christians have to overcome is not seeing that daily Bible reading as a chore, but as a joyful gift and blessed way we can connect and hear from our Creator. To get into the habit of being delighted and honored to own, hold, and read God’s Holy Word changes how you approach that daily Bible time.

Now in our world today, I can go to the coffee shop or local park, open my Bible, and read to my hearts content. I’ve never had a single person approach me with a negative comment about me publicly (yet quietly) displaying my faith through reading.

I’ve also had zero issues with finding or using resources to study Scripture – books, sermons, podcasts, self-proclaimed Instagram theologians, courses, and essays.

The main hurdle starts when you begin to apply that Scripture to your life. That’s when you start facing opposition – from family, friends, neighbors, strangers on the internet. American is adamantly preaching the opposite of God’s Word, so Christians who apply the Word are now being called radicals. When you think if it from the angle of the majority of American citizens who no longer want to be a nation under God, I guess the word fits from a modern Godless perspective. Though, it does give me a good chuckle to see radical and Christian in the same news headline since this is a word that really got it’s start in the 1700-1800’s to describe the progressive liberal ideology that goes against God’s Word.

I know persecution is a word that’s been thrown around a lot the past few years, Christians claiming to be persecuted for their faith, and the left denying it. The truth is that the country is not criminalizing people who call themselves Christians, we aren’t being attacked for simply having the label of our religion listed on Facebook. We aren’t being criminalized for silently reading our Bible in Panera, but the country is starting to criminalize the Christians that are speaking up against the nation turning away from God. We aren’t facing opposition when we buy a theology book on Amazon, but we are being criminalized for praying outside Planned Parenthood, criminalized for saying that children are too young to undergo gender surgery, silenced at school board meetings when trying to reveal sexual content children have access to.

The beliefs that America were once founded on are now often viewed as being as some sort of contagious virus that needs to be eradicated from society. Christianity is more often viewed as patriarchal, sexist, oppressive, and abusive. It’s become dangerous to publicly promote living for God, standing firm against sin, submitting to God (or elders, authority, husband, parents, etc). It’s become a radical idea to stay home with your babies. It’s a radical idea that marriage is between a man and woman. It’s a radical idea to believe that parents are the ones that should have a say over how their children are raised. It’s become a radical idea to announce aloud that we are sinners in need of a Savior, to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.

Despite our efforts, conservative evangelical Christianity is not the norm in America anymore, and even in Christian social circles, one can quickly find themselves being negatively labeled as being radically legalistic for applying Scripture that the world no longer agrees with God’s Word. It’s even radical now to state that the Bible is literally the Word of God (according to this Gallup poll, only 20% of Americans believe that the Holy Bible is the literal word of God)!

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Seeking the Kingdom

A few years back, I started a Podcast called Seeking the Kingdom, which was inspired by Matthew 6:33 (“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”).

My pride and conceit was an immediate issue with my pursuit of creating this podcast. In retrospect, I should have been attending Bible classes as a student instead of rushing in blindly as a teacher. To make matters worse, I very seldom put God first in my life, so what right did I have to even speak on the subject in the first place?

While I was a Christian between 2011 and 2019, I was often trapped in a sinful cycle and reaping the consequences – I was this selfish baby Christian who’s motivation was frequently, and selfishly, using my limited knowledge of the Bible to create a career for myself in writing, speaking, or influencing. With my limited understanding of the verse and a skewed motivation for the podcast, it’s no surprise that my podcasting efforts were fruitless because I wasn’t even abiding in Matthew 6:33.

While my intentions were unrighteous in many ways, I still had divine faith in Matthew 6:33. Even if I couldn’t explain the theology of it at the time or apply it to my life, I still knew it was true. Between then and now, I struggled in dying to my old self and stumbling in holiness with Christ and as my pursuits faded, I had enough sense to apply my faith to press forward as the young, naive Christian I was. Naturally, as I began to apply these words, God worked in my heart and my life, providing me with His Truth rather than the “truth” that I had summoned from my limited world experiences.

As the Truth was revealed to me, I realized just how much Scripture repeats this and how much we need to hear it: Seek God. Love Him with your whole heart. Devote your life to Him. Pick up your cross and follow Him.

These are words I knew and heard of, but the weight they carried did not affect me until I better understood Christ on Calvary. Even more, I know that it’s not something that I can even force other people to believe. Just as the words were once read to me fell onto deaf ears, they also fall onto the deaf ears to some who hear me quote it now.

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