I like honesty. I like it when someone is willing to own up to the facts, the truth, of a matter.
I can’t stand excuses.
Have I used excuses? Of course. I’m a human being, just like you. When I look for excuses or try and shift the blame, however, I rarely feel justified. Instead an awful, weighted feeling grows inside my chest. I know the truth. I know I should have owned up to whatever it was I needed to own up to.
Really, an excuse is just a lie.
This weighs heavily on me today in terms of our attitude toward Bible study. It annoys me to hear people who call themselves Christians say that they don’t like to study the Bible. Please don’t misread me here. I don’t have a perfect daily Bible reading record. I’ve gotten frustrated or bored with certain workbook authors. I’ve had weeks as a group leader when I’ve neglected to prepare for lessons. The truth in all that is I didn’t want want to do my reading on the days I skipped it, often didn’t want to hear what those authors had to say or didn’t want to set aside time for lesson preparation.
If you tell me that you don’t study the Bible because you don’t want to, I’ll believe you. I’ll say, “Yep, been there.” I’ll respect your honesty. I’ll try and engage you in a conversation about why you don’t want to study. Maybe it’s a “not-knowing-where-or-how-to-start” thing. Maybe it’s a “can’t-find-a-workbook-author-I-connect-with” thing. Maybe it’s an accountability thing.
But if you tell me that you don’t study the Bible because you don’t like it, then I will tell you that you make no sense. You honestly don’t like learning more about the God you say you love? You don’t like discovering wisdom and direction, especially in tough situations? You don’t like being able to discern the difference between truth and a lie?
Pray tell, what do you like?
There are so many different ways to study God’s Word. The reality is that we don’t have any reason not to do it. There are dozens upon dozens of authors who have taken the time to produce study guides and commentaries. There are dictionaries to aid in understanding difficult words and concepts. There are maps and timelines galore. There are audio readings, both straight and dramatized. Whatever your learning style, whatever unique way God gave you for understanding the world, there is an avenue for you to get in there and grow.
Is it true that God is beautiful and arresting in His majesty? How can that be so, but His Word be boring or unlikeable? There are tales of creation and fall, grace and redemption, prophets and kings. Men and women return from the dead. Storms are calmed and earth is shaken. People are taken – alive – to Heaven. Dreams and visions, wrestlings and exoduses. The Lord revealed.
Like it or not, we Christians truly are, as Muslims say, “People of the Book.” Yes, God reveals Himself in creation. Yes, His Spirit dwells within us. But there’s just no getting around those 66 books, nor is there a way to avoid the clear consequences of trying to. In saying you don’t like to read and study the words, aren’t you really saying that you don’t like what God has to say? Or, deeper still, that you don’t care?
My friend, I know that comes across as harsh. If you could only see my face! I am desperate for you to know the truth. Lies abound out there. Something or someone is always going to be attempting to suck you in. How are you going to recognize the falsehoods as being such without a firm grasp of the truth? How will you guard your heart and mind if all you ever fill them with is what the world shoves at you? How will you ever understand that what may begin as an act of sheer obedience may turn into the greatest adventure of your life?
Lies brought me to the edge of death. His Word drew me back to life. I haven’t always cried tears of joy at every word I’ve read, but I have been saved. I am being transformed.
I like that.