When you have feasted day after day on junk food, come home, plop on your couch and your greatest extent of daily exercise is picking up the remote control….you can easily pass up the delicious meal that is waiting in the kitchen. Is it a nice extra? Yes. Is it essential? No. Is it appealing an appetizing? Perhaps slightly.
But when you have been out all day fighting in a fierce battle or when you have spent a full day running a race with all that you have against strong winds under the heat of the harsh sun…when you walk in that door dirty, bruised, bloody, and completely alone…that is when you need something to sustain you. The aroma of the delicious meal that is filling the smell of your house is not just a nice treat, it is necessary to keep you from collapsing. Your mouth waters, your thoughts are consumed with eating that meal as soon as possible.
The American church doesn’t need less of the word of God, but we do need more of a hunger and dependence on it that can only come from faithfully obeying what God’s word has already told us to do. We need to engage in the Ephesians 6 battle that is happening all around us, we must run the race set before us.
Engaging in the work God has called his church to be busy about creates a necessity of dependence on God’s living word (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. When we are engaged in this exhausting battle/race, then “keeping in step with the Spirit” or feasting on ”the daily bread” is not an option that comes to mind if we happen to get the munchies around midnight or if we are struggling with some indigestion that resulted in our earlier food choices. The word and the Holy Spirit become essential to getting up for the next day of hard, painful work. It becomes what allows us to push through sore muscles and broken bones to share with joy in the suffering’s of Christ.
Bible studies fill church calendars; conferences sell out, books print in mass…
Yet our cities do not reflect the justice, mercy, or care for the “least” that obedience to God’s word and the Spirit’s leading should produce. Where are the lost in our life hearing about Jesus from us? Where are the tears being shed and prayers being offered over the millions in our city who are not being reached with the gospel? Who among us are serving our enemies? Who is the family to the lonely? Who is visiting the incarcerated man? Who feels responsible for the dying gay man that was disowned by his family ? How many are losing sleep over our all white, all brown, all black churches and lack of representation that is of God’s kingdom? What are we really willing to do to spend ourself for the unborn at risk of abortion and at risk of a life of abuse, neglect, or poverty?
We do not need less of God’s word. The ability to do all of the above can only come in steeping our hearts, minds, and lives in God’s word. But a life steeped in God’s word should produce a Church, it should produce individuals who do what the gospel calls us to do. Out of obligation? No. Out of transformed hearts and lives that can’t help but want to follow Jesus in his steps? Yes. If we love Jesus, we want to be as near to him as possible….and the word shows us where he was: communing with his father while eating with and serving the broken, the vulnerable, the least, the abused, the abandoned.
I don’t ask that we want less of God’s word. I ask that we hunger, thirst, and depend on it for the survival of our souls. I want us so engaged in being light in the darkest of places that we realize without God’s word we will forget that our actions are not to earn merit with God, but to worship him for who he is and what he is doing. I want us so active in the race set before us that we realize without God’s word, we will grow cynical or drown in depression because the evil around us is that great.
I want us to stop attending conferences, bible studies, and reading books while comfortably sitting on our couch enjoying the extra dressing the Word is to our already too-high calorie diet. I want us to stop reaching for God’s word like it’s a bag of chips that never asks us to give up our addictions, privileges, safety, security, or comfort.
I want us to run to God’s word, to dream of the moment we get time to pray with one another, to long for deep fellowship with one another because we are so tired that without it we cannot sustain a joyful faith.
That is when God’s word becomes alive, sharper then a two edged sword, living and active, ready to divide