Perhaps the question of first priority here at the brink of 2020 AD is more basic: do we read at all? Do we sit still long enough to calm our clouded minds, which are vested in every different direction, for the purpose of turning those old-fashioned paper pages? Have you consistently grown as a reader? Personally, I have struggled.
The journey has been a formidable undertaking, both in the intentionality required to carve out the minutes which do not carve out themselves, and the mental fortitude to push through the repetitive readings of pages that confuse me or counter my beliefs. But these pages, full of philosophy and story and conflict and ideology and poetry and love, have continually served to shape the person that I am.
Read the Bible.
I genuinely hope that you my Christian brothers and sisters are sincere in your reading. Specifically, I am speaking of the Bible. Why does it matter? The Holy Spirit is mighty to work in us a holiness that the world will never produce, and can never produce. I understand it to be a challenge in my own life–please hear me–but I pray that the Scriptures are molding you, as God intends. This is a worthy portion of the cost of discipleship. Our time, our lives, belong to Him.
The law shows us our brokenness; the grace of God in Christ shows us the way He has made for our salvation and sanctification. Conviction of sin is painful, but freedom breaks through as we repent. Wisdom from above will nurture our souls, as we walk in right relationship with our Savior and among Christian community. Understanding comes as we grow in laying down our lusts and cares for this world, choosing rather to delight in the riches of the testimonies of our God.
Scripture both prepares us for battle against temptation and sin, and is our weapon in the middle of the war. Believers need the Word of God. Herein our Creator has laid out Supreme Truth, His calling, and His commands for the good of those who find joy in Jesus. We cannot otherwise arrive at God, but through the Scriptures. The Always Existing has shown Himself to us. God and His plan are knowable to you and me.
A bearded man named Spurgeon spent his days urging people to “visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” Let us not neglect the words of our Lord. How could we possibly follow someone we don’t know? If Jesus is God–and we say we submit ourselves to Him–how do we often settle for a glance towards a daily verse, only to dart our eyes and our intentions to the things which truly hold our intrigue? I stand guilty among you who are honest to admit the weights and the idols which form our worldly identities, and the sin which so easily entangles. But we must not settle. We cannot allow the current of the times to carry us. They cannot carry us; we will drown.
Our faith in Jesus Christ gives us new eyes to see the world rightly. We ought to pray to have the mind of Christ, while actively pursuing the God who is there, revealed to you and me. We pursue Christ personally, and encourage one another corporately. We gather and discuss. We pray. We disciple. We participate in fellowship. We sing. We reach out to the weary and desperate all around us, our friends and families and strangers. We raise support and send out missionaries to the nations.
But at the base of all this, is the Truth. The gospel. All else can be misdirected if we miss the Truth. So you and I must read; we must meet with our Savior through His written Word, and grow to delight in His will. As we commit ourselves to this truly great endeavor, He will surely act.
May we recognize our blessing, not only in having the Scriptures in our language bound before us, but also in the education we have received. You and I are able to read; for us it is a matter of choice. Don’t let the scheduled busyness of the American Dream strangle out the Word.