To Read Or Not To Read?
By Sinenhlanhla Majola, GWC Honours student, and Evangelical Research Fellowship member
My friend Matt studies music at UCT and he will be graduating at the end of this year. When I asked him what was next for him, he said he wants to be an apprentice for a year at Tokai Community Church and then head over to George Whitefield College to study the Bible for three years. When I enquired as to why, he responded, “The Word of God says that the workers are few and the harvest is plentiful. So I am passionate about studying the Word of God, where it is taken seriously, so I can be a worker equipped to help build God’s Kingdom.”
Matt is an example of the life changing impact the Word of God can have on our lives, if we allow it to lead us. We live in a society where many people doubt the certainty of the Bible. Even we as Christians are in danger of treating the Bible as if it were an academic piece or just another book on the shelf. Sometimes it would seem that we don’t know what the main message of the Bible is, and this is seen in the way we use it or don’t use it. We misappropriate the Bible as either a rulebook or a mystical divine magic-wand. We ought not to! Rather, we must passionately reclaim the centrality of the Word of God for our daily lives for three important biblical reasons:
First, we read our Bibles daily to know and reflect the glory of God better. 2 Corinthians 2:6 says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”. Think about it, if you devote 3 minutes a day to read the Bible and then for the rest of the day you fill your mind with other unimportant or important secular stuff. Then, for the most part, what is constantly shaping your mind is not directly nurturing your faith. That kind of lifestyle can make us become lukewarm Christians. But if we are Word-filled Christians we will reflect God’s glory, because a godly heart leads to godly thinking and godly thinking influences behaviour, and godly behaviour glorifies God. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.
Friends, no matter how advanced life gets, there is no other way to see heartfelt progress in one’s knowledge of God; one’s gratitude for the gospel; one’s commitment to Church; one’s attitude of life; one’s response to suffering; one’s cultural agility; one’s use of money; one’s use of time; one’s sexual arena without the written Word of God at the centre of your life. It is impossible! And as a close friend of mine always says, ‘this does not happen by osmosis!’ because Christians who know the glory of God better will reflect it in a world that has fallen short of it.
Second, we read our Bible daily for a personal spiritual experience. The Bible records story after story explaining the way people encountered or connected with God. It was when he spoke to them, when he addressed them that they met with God. The Word revealed God to them. This is a spiritual meeting and places proclamation of Truth (which is to encounter God) as the primary experience of any Christian and Church. Jesus says,
‘If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counsellor to be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth’ (John 14:15 ff).
So on the one hand, reading the Word of God will help us know Christ’s will and purpose for our lives so we can live it out. And on the other hand, it is a spiritual encounter with the true and living God.
Third, we read our Bibles daily to prepare ourselves for works of service. God’s Word reveals how the creator designed life to be lived and enjoyed. As members of Christ’ Kingdom we are called to serve one another and the world in love and joy. It is not natural for us to live selfless lives. That is why the Word carefully outlines how that should happen. There is then in the Word of God ample instruction teaching us how to be willing servants of the Kingdom of Christ.
So, far from being irrelevant, the Bible reveals life for the followers of Christ. As it’s custodians, we desperately need to embrace the challenge to fight for its rightful place in our lives. As it’s ambassadors, we need to read it, share it and study it in detail. If we want to saturate our lives with the Word of God, we must become people of the Book, so that we can fully worship the holy God it reveals!
This is an article I wrote originally for Scope magazine, appearing in their November 2015 issue.