“Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:14
In this simple sentence, Paul provides Timothy with a pathway for spiritual growth. Growing as a follower of Christ takes you through three stages: first you must learn biblical truth. Then you must become convinced of it. And finally, you must continue in it. A ship that’s bringing you into safe harbor will be of no good to you if you abandon it.
But first things first: I must learn the Word of God.
Let’s pretend that the American government has just passed a law forbidding us to own Bibles. I imagine most of us would be outraged. Even those who don’t read it. Like Bill Murray yelling, “Nobody steps on a church in our town!” in Ghostbusters, we can revere things we ourselves don’t share in.
Which makes me wonder: For how many of us would a law like that honestly change anything about how we normally go about our daily lives?
I’m not sure when we became this way as a culture, for it hasn’t always been like this. It used to be that the Bible was a prominent part of life in America. It was taught in all our schools. And everyone who went to church on Sunday also attended Sunday School classes before church to go deeper into learning about the Bible. Even those who didn’t go to church knew its stories and main teachings. The average child could have paired David with Goliath, and Jonah with the great fish, and Noah with the flood. Today they can’t.
A couple years ago, our church was hosting a Trunk ‘r Treat event on Halloween for our community, and I decided to make the kids earn the candy I would give them by finishing some sentences. So I’d say, “Jonah and the ________”, and they would have to complete the sentence. “David and ___________” “For God so loved __________”. And even I, who knew it was bad to begin with, was shocked by what I learned that night. 90% of the unchurched kids in our neighborhood were absolutely clueless about basic Bible stories. “Jonah and the _______”, “Evil stepmother!” one of them yelled out. “Jonah and the Jelly Bean!” said another. So I gave them hints. “It’s an animal.” “Jonah and the Worm!” “Jonah and the Moose!”
Honestly, I don’t quite understand biblical illiteracy. People are strange. If someone claims they saw Mary appear on a mountainside in France, people by the thousands will flock there to get close to God. If someone sees Jesus in the clouds, like they did in Argentina last week, near revival breaks out. If someone sees Jesus in a piece of toast, the world will go nuts for awhile, thinking that God has ‘spoken to us’.
But when God thought to give the world a gift to reveal himself to us and to show his great love for us, he didn’t leave us with a monument, he didn’t etch his face on a mountain (or a piece of toast), or shout at us from the heavens. It’s actually brilliant what he did.
It’s brilliant because what he did was lasting, and is accessible to everyone, and can be understood by everyone who makes half an effort.
God put his words, his thoughts, his ideas in a book, that anyone can hold in their hands. He wrote us a love-letter. But hardly anyone knows it, or cares to know it.
Don’t let that be said of you, my friend. You can experience God this very day. Plop yourself down in a chair somewhere. Turn down the noise around you. Bring the book to your lap. Open it. And read.
Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. He’s just released his latest book, “Living Under The Cross: A 40-Day Devotional Journey”. His blogs and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is also the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.