We all have a different story, we all come from different back grounds and have different experiences. I was raised in a charismatic church, then went to a conservative evangelical church, then went to a Presbyterian church, now I’m back serving in an independent evangelical church. I was raised egalitarian and Arminian (I think), now I’m a complementarian and a Calvinist (don’t shoot me!). But all of these changes haven’t been brought about by me experiencing different things, they’ve been brought about by my wrestling with the Word of God.
I make a conscious decision to read materials that I know I’ll disagree with because I don’t only want to be influenced by my own ‘tribe’. I recently read a book that was calling people into a deeper relationship with the Lord, wonderful! But there was an undertone to the book that I couldn’t shake; it seemed to put theology in the bad box and experience in the good box.
But it’s not only this book that does that, so often Christians are found searching for experiences rather than searching for truth. People will probably never say it that way, but the way they live might suggest that’s how they think. People are tempted to think that theology is bad and divisive and that experiences are pure and good. Or that seminaries and theology books are soul-suckers and that the only thing people really need is a good ‘encounter with God’.
This concerns me quite a lot because, almost by default, this way of thinking has the potential to totally sideline the Word of God. Moreover, this way of thinking suggests that the Bible (God’s revealed Word) isn’t enough. Follow those thoughts and you’ll see why I can be so concerned at the devastation that could cause!
Encounters and experiences are not a bad thing, but everything (absolutely everything), must be looked at, examined by and filtered through a robust understanding of truth! If we loose our grasp on the importance of the truth of God’s Word then we’re in danger of becoming experience seekers who go to church to get the next ‘boost’ for the week. That is no way to live the Christian life!
We need to be a people that are characterised by a deep love for the Lord and His Word, a deep desire to obediently serve Him according to it and a people who humbly submit to the teaching of Scripture.
Why is this so important? Because truth doesn’t change, but our sinful hearts do. One day we might have a mountain top experience and the next be crying out to God from a valley. One day we might be rejoicing in our devotional life and the next we’re off making ungodly decisions. The problem with experiences are that they are fleeting, they don’t last.
The thing that will make the biggest impact on a person’s life is not loud music, or emotional words, it’s not feelings and experiences. The thing that will make a lasting impact on a person’s life is the truth from the Word of the Living God spoke and taught to them. The Word will challenge and comfort, the truth will open people’s eyes and the Holy Spirit will work in a person life as the Word of God is taught faithfully.
Christian, please don’t go chasing experiences but instead submit to the Word of God and grow in your love for the Lord, His Word, His People and the lost. The truth of the Bible trumps experience because the truth of the Word of God at work in a person’s heart through the Holy Spirit, is the only thing that can transform a person. Experiences will come and go, but the Word of God will endure forever. So, let’s stop looking elsewhere for answers because God has already given us all the truth we need to understand the wonderful truth that we can call Him Father!