Whatever happened to the days when reading the bible changed everything about us? Where did the genuine heart-change disappear to? When was the last time reading the truth of Scripture made you break down in tears because of the sin you struggle with? I guess what I'm trying to ask is when did growing closer to Christ, receiving his instruction, stop meaning the world to us?
I'm going to make a dangerous claim today. But please bear with me because I include myself in it. I think this has become a serious problem for Christians in the faith today. It's a tragedy really. Not that truth is often misinterpreted. Not even that scripture is misunderstood. Though those are serious issues we do face. No, I would argue the greater tragedy is not misinterpreting the truth; but rather walking away from it unchanged, unaffected, and unwilling to walk in wisdom. You see, misunderstanding can eventually be fixed. But an unwilling, indifferent heart, apart from a miracle of God, is near impossible to penetrate. Proverbs 4 speaks volumes of this. The entire chapter is a dialogue between a Father and a son, in which the son is encouraged to receive his father's wisdom eagerly, heed it obediently, and walk in that wisdom all the days of his life. The instruction received is described as "life" (verse 13). Those who disregard wisdom walk "in deep darkness" (verse 19), and have no hope of ever knowing where they're going, or how to stop stumbling in the darkness they're already lost in. The truth of what we read in scripture must be treasured as precious wisdom. We cannot afford to just go through the mindless emotions of reading words, and let the life-giving instruction of God pass right over our heads like a quick breeze in the wind. We must realize that the way of wisdom IS life! To disregard this wisdom is foolishness, which is the way of death. Walking in wisdom keeps you from death and bonded to God. Coming into contact with the God of the bible that offers this wisdom, and turning away from that with an apathetic attitude is like saying you like how what the bible says sounds, but you don't really take it seriously.
Sadly, that's exactly the cultural mindset of Christians in the church today. Being saved from sin sounds awesome. Jesus dying on a cross is totally what we understand we need. But you mean we have to actually deny the sinful pleasures of the world?!?! Wait a minute, that's hard! That requires effort! Why in the heck would i ever want to sacrifice things that make me feel good and things that make me happy to strive for holiness? Sound familiar? That's because it's the battle cry of fake Christians nationwide. We have become a generation of Christians who count the cost, decide it's just too much, and then claim we still follow Christ in true obedience. Talk about a lie dressed up to look pretty. Unfortunately the culture of non-believers surrounding us keep buying into it. We have become completely and utterly unaffected by what the bible has revealed to us. And something's gotta give.
We cannot and must not be unaffected by what we read in scripture. When we do this, we treat what we read in scripture like those who walk in evil. Those individuals are consumed with thoughts and actions of evil. It plagues them like a disease. They can't keep themselves from doing it. If the truth of the bible means anything at all to me, I'll never walk away un-changed by what I've read. The unbeliever does not understand the God of the bible. He will read the words and walk away the same man. But the believer in Christ will read the scriptures, receive the instruction and grace from it's powerful pages, and never be the same man again.
Instruction is precious. You guard it by maintaining it. The way of wisdom is found in being truly affected by what you learn from the scriptures. By making a point to apply it your life. It's not just about the things you know, it's about what you do with what you know. When I encounter truth, when I read it, it must penetrate deep into my heart. It must absolutely devastate my heart, rather than just make me feel good.
When we are rooted in the wisdom of God, that which we have received based on what we have read and what we have studied, it will be virtually impossible to walk away unaffected. And in that we will be rooted in the God who is the source of that wisdom. To cease desiring wisdom, to no longer be moved to change who we are by what we find in scripture, is the day we become spiritually dead. May we never pick up our bibles, examine them closely, and put them back down the same people we were when we picked them up. Be devastated by the truth. Be transformed by the truth. Be changed.