Dig deep with me here.
Imagine: you meet someone. It is magical, soul altering, undeniable. So you date them. You are caught up in this whirlwind of romance and the first three months are just plain delightful, so you marry. You love them. Two months goes by and you reach a plateau. Getting to know the person is not as fun as it used to be; it is work. So you, though on paper remaining married, check out of the house and into a hotel. You call your spouse, maybe once a night to divulge a few important things. You give money for a few of the household bills. And you intend to live this way indefinitely because going to work and seeing friends and watching Netflix and going on vacation and rooting for the home team and sleeping and going to Walmart and petting the dog really is enough for you. Your spouse is there, if necessary, but in all, your spouse is, in fact, unnecessary to your life. You know the person, a bit. You remember some good times. But you don’t make many new memories, don’t learn many new things. I mean you talk five minutes every three or four days. And this is acceptable to you.
But you’re still married? Are you? Were you ever? Was the vow a dream? It’s easier not to consider it. Yes.
You might think the scenario a little crazy, unrealistic. But let’s consider another:
You meet Jesus. (Yes, this. Always this.) His story captures you, body and soul, and you admit that He is real. “I believe in God!” you say. Either right away if the right emotions stirred, or weeks or months later, you muster up the courage to say a prayer. Yes! You pray! You speak to God directly and, possibly, you say something like this: “God! I admit that I’m a sinner, unworthy of Your love or forgiveness, unable to earn it alone. But I believe that you sent Jesus to earth in order to pay for my sins with His death, that His sacrifice was sufficient, that He rose from the grave in proof of His saving power and conquering of death, and I confess that He is Lord! I accept the gift of salvation.” And that is that.
So He becomes your bridegroom. And you are excited.
For three weeks. Three months? Three years? You give Him ten? You read the Bible, you freely tell people that you “believe in God.” Because you do! You really do.
But a point comes when Jesus is little but a part of your past, an event. He happened to you. And He is real. And you still admit this. When He comes up in conversation, you claim Him, most of the time, if not all. You pray when you remember to, or as you fall asleep at night. You read the Bible occasionally. You go to church every Sunday, or some Sundays, or on Easter. It’s your call, either way.
It’s your call, right?
Let’s reconsider that.
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26
“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.” I Peter 3:13-17
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15
“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” Revelation 1:3
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
I want to talk about this last one. Grow in the grace and knowledge. Knowledge? Yes, we are commanded to grow in knowledge. Friend! How can you love God and keep His commandments if you don’t read your Bible with incredible frequency and intention?! How?? How can you discern the will of God for your life if you don’t spend time getting to know what He wants from you in general? Without praying? Daily? How do you do it without Him? Really though—
How do you live on a daily basis without Him?
And when you do, how do you then claim Him as your God?
Your GOD? This is what I’m trying to get at: if you say that you are saved, that you are a Christian, you are saying that God is your God. Now this is no small deal. If you have actually given your life to Christ, He does not spring into existence suddenly on Sundays or when you are having an issue or celebrating a success. If you’ve submitted your life to Christ, you are baptized in the Holy Spirit and He dwells in you, leading you and convicting you every second of every minute of every hour of your days. Are you listening? Or have you shut Him away in a corner compartment of your mind? He doesn’t fit there. He’s far too alive for that, far too powerful. It is quite possible, and terrifyingly so, that He is not there at all. I’m not trying to tell you that you aren’t saved, because I can’t know that here. But are you? Do you have that confidence? That hope? Does it burn within you so intensely that you feel pressure to tell others? If it doesn’t that’s an awfully confusing thing. Because hell is real. Are you content to let your friend go there? Are you sure you aren’t? Where’s your hope? What verse is your battle cry? What Word of God comes to mind when you’re tempted with lust? Greed? Selfishness? Material gain? Laziness? Apathy? Divorce? Fornication? Theft? Drunkenness? The Bible says explicitly that the last three won’t inherit the kingdom of God. How can you be scared of that if you’ve never read that verse? How can you know what actions to avoid? Yes, by grace we are saved and not by works, but friends! The Bible is so, so, so clear that if the Spirit lives in you there is evidence of it! It is clear that many people who say they are Christians will be rejected on judgement day. Please tell me that won’t be you! Yes, you may struggle with sin. Scratch that, you will struggle with sin. But if you are born again you are no longer a slave to it. If you are still a slave to one of those sins, please take the time to question whether or not you ever truly gave your life to Christ or if you just recited some words. You fighting with that sin like it’s an excruciatingly painful thorn in your side is evidence that the Spirit is within you. A willingness to live with that sin without guilt is evidence that the Spirit isn’t within you.
Read your Bible. Sit alone with the Lord. Put God high, high, higher(!) onto that pedestal in your life where He belongs. There is nothing above Him. Not one thing.
According to Jesus, the commandments are summed up in these two: First: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Second: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Remember, the first is the first, it’s preeminent. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind even before you love your neighbor. So…in case it hasn’t hit you yet, that means He deserves your time. Lots and lots and lots of it. All of it. He’s the guiding force in your mind.
All. Day. Long.
Aaannnndddd recall that all of these words are lies and useless if the Bible isn’t true. And if the Bible isn’t true, then yeah you can get to heaven by any religion that’s in your mind. And if that’s true, then you can create your own spirituality by your feelings and prayers. Yes! Any prayer is spiritual if you can create your own spirituality.
But if the Bible is true, and Jesus is real, not all prayers are spiritual, or of the Spirit (the one that’s real and alive). And if the Bible is true, it’s true. One more time: if it’s true, it’s true.
And if it’s true, READ IT.