Over the last few days I have been writing a sermon on Romans 5:1-11, which means that I have spent the last while getting my head into the book of Romans and specifically trying to understand Romans 5-8.
Romans is a theological ocean that will fill your head with information about God and humanity, that will fill your heart with a great love for the Lord and that will give you a desire to serve Him more.
But I’ve also been reflecting on how easy it is for people to just skim over verses without thinking about their significance for your life. The Bible is a feast of truth that is presented before the reader to dive in and be filled with the splendour and majesty of our Great God. But so often I think that Christians, myself included, snack on the Bible instead of feasting.
Instead of diving into the Word and filling our minds with it, instead of being stretched and challenged intellectually and theologically many people seem happy to open at the ‘go-to encouraging passages’. People are tempted to turn to the places that they understand, know well and verses or chapters that have been significant for them in the past. This is not a bad thing, but is it enough?
I don’t think it is!
As a staff team at the church where I serve, we have been studying the book of Ecclesiastes. It is a difficult book, it is challenging but it is God’s Word and the message is a glorious one.
Here are three reasons why we only snack on the Bible instead of feasting on it:
How many times have you read a passage and thought “Yeah, I heard a sermon once about this and the preacher said….” That’s great that you’ve heard a sermon on it, but who says that the preacher exhausted the meaning and application of the text? But even something as small as that can lead us to switch off, to skim read or to just skip a chapter because we know what happens next.
Would we do that with our favourite movie… probably not.
Would we do that with a book that we’ve read a few times already… probably not.
Would we walk away from a conversation if we knew the outcome… probably not.
So why do we treat God’s Word like that? No matter how much of the Bible we know, no matter how many times we have read a particular book of the Bible we can never not learn from God’s Word. If we think that we have then we are kidding ourselves!
Read the bible through in a year and you’ll realise how little of it you actually remember. I’ve done this for a few years now and every single year I think “I don’t remember reading that before”. Obviously there will be parts of the Bible that will be more relevant for certain periods in life (rejoicing, mourning, etc.), but we should never become numb or too familiar (in the negative sense) with what God has to say to us through His Word.
2. Lack of investment
How many times have you quickly pulled out your Bible and read a quick verse in the morning and gone about your day? Or how many times have you sat and thought on a Saturday night “I haven’t read my Bible since last Sunday!”? If we really want to feast on God’s Word then we need to put in the hours!
A big pressure is always time. People seem to get busier and busier, time gets squeezed between work, social life, family, church and hobbies. One of the easiest things to drop is often our times reading God’s Word.
Practically if you set aside 30 minutes a day (that is nothing compared to the average time spent on social media, watching Netflix or Amazon Prime or even reading other books), then you will see a real difference in your understanding of the Bible and in your spiritual maturity. We want to know everything about how God works, about God’s plan for our lives, about the difficult questions we want to have answers to; but we will only be able to begin to grasp these things once we invest some time in the Bible. Then we will start feasting and stop snacking.
The average person won’t be able to pick up a book like Ecclesiastes or Leviticus and think “Yes, nailed it, I understand 100% what this passage means and how it applies to me”. It takes time, it takes study.
It is so encouraging to see Christian really wrestle with the Bible, to see people asking the difficult questions and asking for materials that will help them understand what a particular passage or book means. These are the people who want to grow, who don’t want their faith to plateau and who want to know more about the God that they serve.
We will never get to the point of understanding the Bible well, unless we invest the time and actually study it. Practically, why not take a book of the Bible and read it for a month. Read it through numerous times, highlight repeated words, reoccurring themes, underline difficult bits and go and ask the hard questions. We do it with other topics, so hwy stop when it comes to the Bible? Feasting on God’s Word takes an investment of time and study.
One of the things that stops people from really investing in the Bible, is a lack of interest. We might stumble across a hard passage and have questions, but when we weigh up the time it takes to study and ask questions we quickly lose interest.
Snacking on the Bible is easy, it doesn’t require investment or interest, but feasting on God’s Word takes time, it takes a desire to learn and it takes real investment and interest.
3. Lack of understanding
I think the biggest problem with why people snack more on God’s Word than feasting on it is because we don’t think that much about what the Bible is. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to the world. It is the Word of God that challenges, convicts, encourages and builds up in the faith.
If we truly grasped what the Bible is, if we truly grasped the privilege that we have to have God’s Word in our own language then we would have a great appreciation for it.
The Bible was not given to us to be treated like and horderves, but it is a feast that we can read, spent time in, study and never be finished with the depth of truth that is contains. Do not settle to simply snack on the Word of God, but dive in and feast on it!