Bernie Diaz is pastor of Christ Community Church in Pembroke Pines, FL.
Our church launched a new congregation-wide Bible reading plan this month that has begun to stir up quite a bit of buzz, enthusiasm and anticipation of what God may choose to do with the intake of His Word in our community of faith this year.
That’s a good New Year’s resolution I think, and am grateful for the momentum which seems to have begun among us, but am also wary of the fact that New Year’s resolutions- even the best of them, often fizzle out in many before even spring arrives.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1:22-24)
My biggest concern as we strive to fulfill our calling in practicing the spiritual disciplines as a local church this year, is that those that stick with our reading plan may hear and read the word faithfully and gain head knowledge in Christ- but miss the translation of moving it 18 inches downward into the heart and then several feet lower into our daily walk.
In other words, my prayer will be that me, my family and my flock will not miss the idea that the Bible was written not to satisfy our curiosity, but to help us conform to Christ’s image. The goal of our Bible reading, study and mediation is not to make us smarter sinners, but to make us more like our Savior.
For many of us, and according to a new study, too many of our younger adults, may not be getting that message. While many American teenagers hold a positive opinion of the Bible, most don’t regularly read it, according to survey results released by the American Bible Society.
“Sixty-nine percent of teens believe the Bible contains everything one needs to know to live a meaningful life; 89 percent of teens believe the Bible is a sacred text; and 44 percent of teens believe the Bible has too little influence in society,” a spokesman of the ABS, told The Christian Post.
“On the other hand, teens are not very engaged with the Bible. Only 64 percent of teens read the Bible three or four times a year or less; 71 percent of teens said they are too busy. When teens do read the Bible, 76 percent said they are influenced ‘a lot’ by it.”
Therefore this research reveals what is almost intuitive for many of us, particularly those that serve in ministry. We- our children that have been brought up in Christian homes, know that eating Bible is a good diet, a healthy one, a real and true one, is good for us, but like their levels of vegetable intake, they would rather not, and when they do, will see little reproductive fruit from it.
Interestingly enough, last year, the society released the results of a survey of millennial-aged Americans (18-30 years-old) which found that about two-thirds of this generation held a positive opinion of the Bible. Opinions of the scripture are just fine and dandy, but not particularly helpful to sanctification or spiritual maturity, If they’re not absorbed into the blood-stream of life, meaning our walk or lifestyles.
In light of this information, what should we as church leaders, parents- the primary disciple makers of our homes and mentors of youth do then about the hearers but non-doers of the Word among us?
Just as the spiritual disciplines of the Christian faith can be condensed fundamentally into two basic areas – prayer and Bible intake or reading (see our last post series; Talking and Eating Bible with God in 2016), we leaders and influencer s of young adults or teens, can wisely model two attitudes or behaviors that should make a huge difference as we strive to have doers as well as hearers of the word by asking ourselves two questions:
One: Are We Hearing Bible?
Someone wisely said long ago that “values are more caught than taught.” It is one thing to tell our young people to read God’s Word because it is good and right, and then it is quite another, to fail to model that discipline by neglecting that same privilege and pleasure ourselves.
Do our children know that their parents and pastors have a ‘quiet time’ or daily devotional time with God, immersed for however long in prayer and Bible reading? Do we share that divine truth and treasure which we mine from the fields of our Bible consumption with them? Simply put, do we get excited about getting alone with God and then pouring out that which the Spirit feeds us?
In practical terms, this could mean family devotions for those of you with children in your home, and for all of us, this means thinking and talking Bible- applying scripture to our everyday way of thinking (worldview), talking and walking. This kind of Christianity can be contagious.
Two: Are We Doing Bible?
Frankly, the Christian that memorizes scripture- references and all, is well versed in theology and doctrine but lives like a legalistic Pharisee or liberal antinomian (anti-law), hurts more than helps the growth of their young adult children, as well as the kingdom and cause of Christ to a watching world.
Perhaps the greatest detriment to the advancement of the kingdom and fulfillment of the Great Commission in America today, is not the church’s profession, but its lack of possession and manifestation of God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated and Spirit filled faith.
This is maybe the most critical process of our Bible reading and spiritual lives today. Howard Hendricks provocatively said, ‘Observation plus interpretation without application equals abortion.” In other words, every time you observe and interpret scripture but fail to apply it, you kill the purpose of scripture. Paul wrote Titus and his church so that they would have, “knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness.”
This is the difference between interpretation (understanding the Bible) and application. Interpretation focuses on meaning. Application focuses on action. Interpretation involves a singular meaning (the same for all Christians). Application involves multiple actions (different for specific life situations in wisdom).
The goal there is double-sided. We need to get into the word of God, so the word gets into us. Our character and conduct has to change as the result of what we study. If we want our children in general and young adult ones in particular, to be doers and not just hearers of the word, we adults must model and lead the way. What would happen to this generation then?
You know this generation loves their cell-phones and the instant access of immediate information and social interaction right?
That makes me wonder what would happen if our young people treated their Bibles like their cell phones?
- What if they carried it around in their purses or pockets?
- What if they turned back to go get it if they forgot it?
- What if they scrolled through it several times a day?
- What if they used it to receive messages from the text?
- What if they treated it like they couldn’t live without it?
- What if they used it as they traveled?
- What if they used it in case of an emergency?
This might be a good time for all of us to ask ourselves, “Where is my Bible?”
Oh, finally, remind them, unlike our cell phones, we don’t ever have to worry about our Bible being disconnected, because Jesus already paid the bill – once and for all!
This post first appeared at https://mycaptivethought.wordpress.com/