Greetings from My and My House,
Are we lazy Christians, habitual creatures, in bondage, or faithless? My guess is a little of all in the area of today’s topic. We definitely show an area of unrenewed worldly thinking. But please don’t take what I write here today to the nth degree of extreme. Just think about HOW and WHERE it DOES apply.
I heard yesterday that self-help books were by far the largest category (I don’t remember if it was the largest section in the library or in bookstores). Our society is looking for help for their problems. And a plethora of writing and reading is done from the viewpoint of the foolishness of man.
From my own observations, I think the same is true of Christian book stores. The majority of the shelves are self-help, “Christian Living” – with “Christian” fiction, coming in a (perhaps close) second, and the Bibles in a small section in the back or tucked into a corner. Christians too are looking for help for their problems. But they aren’t looking directly to the Word of God. They are looking to self-help books. (Perhaps I should say throughout this post, “WE” – and bring this topic closer to home for all of us.)
I don’t believe, as Christians, we are purposely looking to the foolishness of man, but are truly hoping all these books contain the Wisdom of God from His Word. But for some reason we don’t think we can get it from the Word of God itself, by ourselves. Perhaps that’s because we live in a society of “experts” that thinks it needs an “expert” in every area of life to tell them what to do. They need certified teachers to educate their own children. They need licensed doctors to care for ALL their health needs – to the point that now pregnancy and child birth is a “medical condition”. They need registered dieticians to “prescribe” proper menus. And they need psychologists and clinical therapists to tell them what their problems are and how to solve them. The list goes on and on in our society. For being such anarchists that won’t obey any authority, our society sure sets a lot of them up for themselves. But it’s just an indication of the refusal to take any responsibility for themselves. If something goes wrong, there’s always someone else to blame.
I’m NOT saying that we should never consult someone that has more training in a certain area than we have, when we can’t figure things out for ourselves. Just that we should be doing more figuring out for ourselves, and relying less on the so-called “experts” for EVERYTHING.
But back to the “Christian” aspect of this. I believe that too many times Christians have the same “expert” mentality, and think someone else can give them all the answers that will solve all their problems. No wonder we have a Christianity that is so big in self-works and small in faith. Yes, we are creatures of habit, in bondage to the “ways of man”.
But I think it is more than just this. We think we cannot figure it out in the Bible for ourselves. We think we need an “expert” to figure it all out for us, to digest it, and then put it into to an understandable, “palatable” form for us. We think we need another mediator. We can not go to the Word on our own and trust the Holy Spirit to give us what we need, to be our Teacher to explain to us what He says, and desires from us. Bluntly, we do not trust “walking by faith”. We want something proven in the natural to “work”. And if this book doesn’t work, we’ll try the next one, and the next one, ad infinitum.
But we never think of going directly the Bible ourselves. We think that would be too hard. How could we ever figure out what it means and how to apply it, without some expert man interpreting it for us? We heap for ourselves “teachers”. We forget we have THE Teacher, living inside of us. Are we too lazy to expend the effort needed to figure it out for ourselves? We want our milk. We remain babes, by our own choosing, long after we should have grown up and been chewing the meat of the Word for ourselves. Yes, the Bible is not properly understood by the natural (unregenerate) man. It is spiritually discerned, understood by the regenerate spirit. If we are “in Christ”, He will cause our spirits to understand His Word. He will be our Teacher. But will we be good students who study?
The Dark Ages was a time when the common people fell into great ignorance. They didn’t learn for themselves. In the organized “church” this was characterized by a need for a Pope or Priest to read and interpret the Bible for the people. It was a time when man was in great bondage. Have we entered into a Neo-Dark Age? A time when people no longer think for themselves. Even Christians who have available to them individually the Word of God, very easy to find, very cheap to buy. Yet, the average Christian relies on the “Pastor” or books by experts to read and interpret the Bible for him, rather than going straight to the Word themselves. They’ve been sold a lie that the straight Bible itself is complicated and hard to understand, so they need a “dumbed-down” version that interprets for them, or another person to do that.
Rather than seeing the pastors and teachers as those given by God to help equip them to do the ministry of God. They see them AS the ministers. Rather than being like the faithful Bereans who went to the Word itself to see if the things being taught were true or not, today’s Christian takes what is taught by these, unquestioned. And if the pastor isn’t preaching what is “relavent” to them, i.e. the self-help they currently need, they heap up for themselves teachers in the form of the equipping ministry of Author. Somehow I missed that one in Ephesians.
Now, I hope you realize that I am NOT saying we should not ever read another Christian’s perspective on anything. What I am saying is that when we read these things looking for Biblical answers without searching, studying the Bible itself, we are putting ourselves back in the Dark Ages, a place our society seems to be heading fast – where the common man is not encouraged to think for himself. He is not taught HOW to think, but WHAT to think.
What I am proposing is that we so thoroughly know the Word – or rather, continually study it ourselves to do so, that when we read these other things we compare them to what the Word itself says, to see whether they be built on Truth or not. Too many times, we read a book and think, “Oh, that sounds Biblical. It must be right.” Then we read the next and think, “Oh. No, THIS one sounds Biblical.” We are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.
We need to be solidly grounded in the Word of God, so these other things we read are just further applications of the Truth, the Bible Principles, we already know – that we have found in the Word for ourselves.
In closing, here’s a favorite passage of mine. I think I quoted it on Me and My House musings last week, but here it is again – from a bibliophile:
And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecc. 12:12-14)
It is the Word of God, not other books, that changes our lives. It is Biblical literacy – studying and knowing the Bible for ourselves – that brings Liberty. We shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set us free. It is the study of God’s unadulterated Word for ourselves that will keep us from the Neo-Dark Ages.