Monday, May 11, 2009
Bible Reading vs. Transformation
Maybe you’ve read the apostle Paul’s directive, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
Have you ever thought that Paul meant we’re just supposed to read our Bibles? Read ‘em more, read ‘em better, because then we’ll know what to do? We make a big mistake if we believe and approach this transforming act as one that will result primarily in a smart mind, a head crammed full of wisdom and what to do.
In his outstanding book, “Birthright,” David Needham writes, “…the renewal of our minds is far more than simply exercising brain power. A crucial ‘how’ of holiness is inseparable from knowing the truth of God’s Word, but it must be more than simply quantitative information. It must involve a participant, relational type of knowledge, which in the Bible is inseparable from the power of its Author. Instead of simply telling us to ‘memorize the Bible,’ Paul prayed,
‘I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe…’” (Eph 1:17-19 NIV, italics mine.)
What a prayer! How much better is all of that than, "Do your homework (read your Bible), so you'll be smart and make good decisions"? There are lots and lots of things I can do and read if my goal is to get smarter so I can make good choices. But having that as my goal is far too low, and reduces the incredible Christian life of knowing God (Think of that!) and the wealth of His grace to me into something crude, useful and worldly. And then I wonder why God isn't very useful at times. You know what I mean? It might take a while before the dawn happens in my mind and I realize that God is not useful--He's far more than that.
And He has something far greater in mind for me, too. Transformation.
What do I do? Well, no longer do I make it my point to commit scripture to memory in order than I might not offend God, in order that I might not make Him mad or disappointed in me because of my actions. Sometimes I do memorize a verse or two, but I don’t read the Bible so I can be a “good Christian,” with ample spiritual brownie points growing in my heavenly file. I memorize and think about certain passages and verses so that in my day, whether beginning, middle or end, I’m thinking about Him. Reflecting upon what He has done for me and what He has made of me does something miraculous—the real me, the newly created son of God me emerges, stands up and is noticeable. I can tell! So can others.
In short, I’m transformed, and I know it. The lie of my earthly citizenship and belonging is removed, and there I am, a heavenly creature. The decoy attractions of this world appear as the ludicrous seductions they are, and true delight and freedom invigorate me.
And things are as they should be. (And I’m likely to make some pretty good decisions, too.)
Needham writes, “Remember, God did not save us simply to use us. He did not save us to get such and such quantity of holiness produced. He saved us for love.”
He loves you wildly—and that’s transforming.