Greetings church! This month want to share with you something that been on my mind as I have been reading A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin. In the very first chapter, Calvin writes:
“For true doctrine is not a matter of the tongue, but of life; neither is Christian doctrine grasped only by the intellect and the memory, as truth is grasped in other fields of study. Rather, doctrine is rightly received when it takes possession of the entire soul and finds a dwelling place and shelter in the most intimate affections of the heart” (pp. 12-13).
The word doctrine, when used here, is not necessarily speaking of a specific doctrinal stance or a finer point of theology. But rather, Calvin means the teachings of Christ, the gospel, and the message of scripture. He goes on to write, “In order for doctrine to be fruitful to us, it must overflow into our hearts, spread into our daily routines, and truly transform us within” (p. 13). This means the Word of God, heavenly thoughts, and devotion to Christ should permeate through our days and our conversations. It should be the norm of our lives, not the occasional. But we should each ask ourselves: “Is that indeed the case for me?”
If not, we should ask why. I have been thinking about the stumbling blocks that get in the way of saturating oneself with the Word. One consideration I encourage you to think about is that we are living in an age where technology, entertainment and social media are so prevalent and pervasive. Just think, smartphones (and other devices) are everywhere and act as pocket computers. This gives constant access to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Netflix (and other streaming services). It is ironically called a feed. If worship is largely based on what we give devotion and time to, then these are things that we allow to rule us. For the most part, we are all “plugged-in” to constant stimulus of videos, messages, shows, movies, apps, and news feeds. If you are like me, at some point you have thought to yourself: “I just don’t have the time to pray, or read scripture.” One of the most convicting refutations to this thought is to check your phone’s screen-time, if it allows you too. Don’t forget screen time on the T.V. as well. If you check these things as I have, you may find a shocking number of missing hours.
Missed the previous editions?
If we aren’t careful, our social medias, streaming services, and other entertainment platforms become the gods that receive our daily devotions rather than Christ. It is these things that shape us and influence our mind and heart. I once heard Dr. Rob Plummer, a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on a podcast asking the silly but profound question: “Is your life shaped by scripture or by re-runs of The Office and professional sports.” At first, you might find the question absurd, but there is a stinging truth that sits behind these words. It may not be The Office, or even pro sports, but our hearts are wandering and we are prone to wander after things much less holy and magnificent than God.
Perhaps we have let ourselves become bored with God. I say “let ourselves” because if one is truly beholding the wonder that is God, he/she cannot get bored. What I mean is, if we find ourselves bored with God, we have not been beholding him for all that he is worth. We have not been looking or searching.
How then can we live life more pleasing to the Lord? I’m sure there are a myriad of answers to that question, but we can certainly start with a devotion to God and knowing Him. How can we know God? The answer is probably a little simpler than you think. God has chosen to reveal himself through scripture and therefore scripture is our primary avenue of learning about God. So yeah, you guessed it! We should read scripture if we want to know the Lord more intimately and more fully. It is folly to think that we can grow in our faith and devotion without the Word of God. J.T. English communicates in his book Deep Discipleship that in order to be whole disciples of Christ, we need the whole Bible.
You might think “Duh, of course I know I need the Bible.” I’d say that’s good of you, but does it really form you, does it shape you, does is renew your mind. Not only that, but do you engage in more scripture that you do all the stumbling blocks listed above? I have been wrestling with this myself because whether I like it or not, I am being discipled and transformed by something. I hope for myself and for you, it is the Word rather than the world. Paul urges Christians in Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Not conforming to the world is not just disliking and avoiding things that already get under your skin like abortion, unbiblical sexuality, or CRT. It’s renewing our own selves in Christ, because if we are honest, some of the worldly things that we like probably don’t have the status of “good and acceptable and perfect.”
This is done by going to the Word, meditating on it, and allowing for its correction just as much as we allow for its encouragement. In other words, living it out.
Dear fellow Christian, if you find that you are distracted from the Lord, come back to him. Hear from Him as His words can be found in Scripture. If you find yourself loving this world too much, repent. Come back to the Lord and be renewed by him. As I mentioned in January, the Lord loves you and His love is a wanting love, He wants you to receive it. He wants it to change and sanctify you, and when you struggle, He wants it to comfort and reassure you. Run to Him and run to His Word, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Grace and peace,