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May 2009

Monday Musings on Sunday’s Sermon

So…”what did you get out of it“?

Last night as we were discussing the sermon (Surrender to The Word of God) in our small group, I was struck by how often we ask this question.  In some instances it’s altogether appropriate.  For example, when used in reference to a business or legal agreement, reading a book or taking a class, it makes sense.  However, we used in reference to a relationship, a date, or a long encounter with a dear friend, the question is crass, vulgar and so typical of our self-centeredness.  (Thanks to Matt Bristol for that one.)  In the sermon this week, Robert pointed out so clearly that is just as short-sided and rude to approach the Word of God, the Bible, this way.

It is this insight in particular that is troubling me…because I do this!  What can I get out of it?  What can I use here for my own purpose?  What is in it for me?  Our sinful natures drive us to find what good we can out of ANYTHING and use it for ourselves.  And yet I treat the Bible the same way when I hope to “take something from it” and use it for my own life.  Yet, as we learned yesterday, this is not the point.  This is not why God gave us his written word.  God did not give it to us so we could capture something from it, but that He could capture us.  He spoke not for us to get “something”, but that He could get us.  He has redeemed us and then tells us the story of redemption so that everything we are, sinful and powerless as we are, would be wrapped up His righteousness and greatness.   The same God that spoke the world into existence speaks to us personally and patiently to create, stir and capture our affections for Him.

Yet how often I read the Bible without encountering God!  I think much of the reason is that I approach it in this selfish way.  We see it as a manual, a how-to, and encyclopedia of Bible principles and our hearts are left dead.  We are left to muster faith, hope and love out of our pitiful being.  Yet, when perceived rightly, we see that God displays Himself in the simple, recognizable images of scripture as Father, King, Son, etc.  It is through these images that we see Him, know our sin and our faults, be loved by Him on the basis of Christ’s sinless life and sin-bearing death, then trust and love as a result.  This is story of Redemption.  It is this story that caused the hearts of Jesus’ followers on the road to Emmaus to “burn within them” as Jesus rebuked them for being “foolish men and slow of heart to believe” and then “explained to them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures”.  (Luke 24:25-27)

May God capture our “slow to believe” hearts, may He speak to our souls and may our hearts burn as we see Him and surrender to Him in His word.




Whit W.

May 12 2009 Reply

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the post. Those insights were helpful. I do have a couple follow-up questions though as I think I may be a tad confused.

I agree that there is a self-centered and sinful way of approaching scripture. My confusion arises when examining the alternative that you set forth (i.e. seeking to encounter God through Scripture in such a way that our hearts burn for Him). It seems, at least on the surface, that one could also challenge this perspective as being “self-centered.” Let me explain. You rightly point out that we should seek to have our hearts captured by God as we read His Word. But doesn’t this inherently involve a delight and enjoyment on our part of the Scripture we are reading and the God we are encountering. Couldn’t we equally say that this approach is self-focused in its outlook? Aren’t we still approaching Scripture looking to “get something out of it.” I guess I am just hoping you could more fully distinguish between each approach and what exactly makes each of them either honoring or dishonoring to God.


May 13 2009 Reply

Hey Whit, great point. I am going to borrow the life message of John Piper for this one: God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. God is not honored when we are satisfied with knowledge for knowledge sake or with biblical principles that we get the credit for applying well. This is man-made self centered religion and our hearts can “burn” for this as well. This difference comes when we are satisfied with HIM. When our hearts burn from “the Light of the Knowledge of the glory of God in THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST” (2 Cor 4:6) God is most honored because even in our selfish joy we are making much of Him, not of us. So in short, having joy in ourselves and seeking it for ourselves is not what makes us self-centered. God actually made us that way. (see Johnathon Edwards’ Resolutions) It is what or Whom we take joy in that determines who is at the center.

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