Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Loving Jesus through loving Scripture

Do you enjoy reading the Bible? I am speaking about just plain old opening up the Bible and spending large amounts of time simply reading it, ingesting it and internalizing it. This is something, only by God's grace, that I have enjoyed, and can't seem to live without, since about 1995 on a consistent basis. I am not talking about fulfilling Q/T duties in the morning or evening. I am talking about going to Scripture because you know that that's the place that you are going to encounter the living God as the Living Word, or Jesus. There is something about Scripture that no other book I have ever read has been able to achieve. I am not really talking about anything mystical, but something concrete and real; meeting and coming to know the eternal Word of God through the Written Word of God. If you stop and think about it, isn't it amazing, the Bible? I mean it was written over a period of 1,500 years on 3 different continents, and over 40 different authors; all of the authors communicating the same message, with the same center of meaning: Jesus! Scripture is nothing less than God's triune speech, speech that is embodied in Jesus, and speech that is burnt onto our flesh-soft hearts for Him!

When I think about Scripture it gives me hope! There are so many people in our world who are trying to walk through it without the sure Word of God as the lamp for their feet. We bump into people all the time who just seem to be bouncing off of one thing or idea to the next. That's what I like about the Bible. It's God's more sure word of prophecy for us. It's His daily provision for us, like pure water for a parched soul in a wandering wilderness. Isn't it exciting when you get to introduce someone to the power of God's Word in Scripture, and the Spirit illuminates their eyes for the first time to realize the significance of Scripture. That in fact Scripture speaks about a personal loving God, who demonstrated His love for them by becoming a man; and by becoming obedient as a man to the point of death on a cross. I love being around people who love the Scriptures. Unfortunately what I've been finding is that it is harder and harder to find folks who just love Scripture because they simply love Jesus.

There are so many people in the Church who want to know God, and thus know Scripture; but what I'm finding is that either: 1) folks don't make time for Scripture, 2) folks do make time for Scripture, but get bogged down with arguing for particular prefabbed readings of Scripture (like pet theological constructs), 3) or folks who simply read Scripture as a duty instead of as a love. These are all struggles for all of us, I would imagine, at one level or the other. What I am trying to evoke with this post is to excite people to commit large swaths of their time (like more than 30 minutes a day, maybe like 45 minutes, or more) to reading major chunks of Scripture (and not all over the place, but through books of the Bible . . . in fact through the Bible). What happens as you do this is that you become familiar with the flow of Scripture, you start seeing the bigger contours of Scripture, and in the end you realize that as you turn each and every page you are pressed straight up against Jesus Himself (cf. John 5:39)!

If you don't read Scripture this way, I want to challenge you to start! Ask Jesus to give you a thirst for His Word, and righteousness; and you know what? He will! He has in me, and continues too. You almost have to develop a sense of jealousy for the Lord. A sense that you will settle for nothing less than Him! An attitude that is never really satisfied with what you know of Him today; an attitude that says, when you go to bed one night, you're going to wake up the next morning and press into Him even further. A drive that won't rest until you find it in Jesus through His Word. Of course, none of this can be mustered up by you; it has to come from Him who loved us first so that we might love Him back (I John 4:19)!

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