Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Dear Pastor(s) -- A Plea for Biblical Literacy in the Modern Church


(Photo by Samantha Sophia)

Reading the Word isn’t just a “good thing to do”, it is how we come to know the God we serve. Scripture is a lifeline. God introduces Himself to us in every nuance of context, every scene into which He steps mightily, every carefully preserved phrase. Layer after layer after layer of beauty and truth. Tell your flock to look, read, study and find Him there. It is the knowledge of God that will guide their hearts and actions.

Pastor, please do not continue to only bottle feed the flock. Open the lid, entice them toward the meat of the Word. And, Pastor, if you have not yet developed a flavor for that meat yourself, if you don’t feel able to digest it just yet, please step away from the podium until the Spirit of God has formed that maturity within you. Then come back and tell them that you have truly tasted that the Lord is good and lead them well toward that good.

Tell them, Pastor, that getting to truly know our God is a lifelong pursuit and it’s okay that it won’t fully happen in a weekend. The almighty, sovereign Creator of the universe is not two inches deep, so please don’t keep them in the shallow end. Tell them our God is a bottomless ocean of goodness, richness, wisdom and truth, all of which He longs to reveal to us. Tell them that they will never reach the bottom of that ocean, but that they should swim hard as if they could. Let them know it’s okay to feel like they are drowning at times -- it’s called conditioning and it will make them stronger. Tell them God is always faithful to breathe new life into those who delve completely after Him. He is worth every effort.

And, Pastor, don’t let your people think this life or the faith or the church is about them, about their fulfillment this side of eternity. You do them a disservice allowing them to remain in a consumer mindset. Our Messiah did not come to give us a lifestyle pattern to follow. He came to give us Himself. God Himself came to give us Himself. And He doesn’t just demand ritual behaviors from His people, but the surrender of our whole selves. He does not long to simply grant our wishes, our earthly desires, but to transform every tiny piece of our existence until every desire we hold is shaped fully into a desire for Him alone. Because in the life we are running toward, the new life, the new creation, what we will receive is HIM.

Be in the Word. Pastor, show them how to be in the Word. Give them wise guidance and understanding not catch phrases and trendy mantras. Only what is true will stand through the fire. And in the days ahead, when the name of Jesus isn’t marketable, when following heavenly ways brings earthly penalty, they will need a foundation that will be unshakeable, a higher ground built firmly on their learned and experienced knowledge of the one true God and the redemption He has promised us in Christ.