In a blog post I wrote at the beginning of February entitled “Faith in Action – Fasting” I alluded to the season of Lent that was to come. Now that Lent has arrived, I want to return to an aspect of what I was talking about in that post.
So, you’re fasting? Great. Now what?
In that post I talked about the purpose of fasting. Whether or not you are fasting from food or, more so, something that directly consumes your time and energy, it has to be replaced with something. The something that we replace it with is our devotion to the spiritual disciplines that we have either neglected or need to spend more of our time and energy with. In this post, I want to focus on one of the spiritual disciplines that can be most neglected – study.
Study of scripture is essential to the growth of any believer in Christ Jesus. In fact, we cannot be effective in discipleship or in development of our relationship with Christ without study. I liken this to the series of commercials produced by the company AT&T that I have seen on television recently. To my knowledge, there are five of these commercials each focusing on a different aspect of society. The focus has been on a hospital setting, in-home babysitting, a mechanic’s shop, a restaurant, and tattoo parlor. In each of these settings, whether it be the doctor in the hospital, the babysitter at the home, the mechanic at the shop, the waitress at the restaurant, and the artist at the tattoo parlor, when asked, the person describes themselves or the product they’re selling (i.e. sushi in the restaurant) as, “Okay.” Each person, family, or group of friends assembled all say the same thing, “Just okay?”
The interactions are much more hilarious than that simple description. As it relates to the babysitter, she even goes so far as to not remember the names of the children and says, “I should probably write that down,” when talking to the parents. The doctor who is about to perform a surgery or a procedure asks the patient if he is nervous, to which he responds, “Yes.” The doctor then tells the patient, “Yeah, so am I.” The mechanic responding to a customer who is baffled by them just being okay when it comes to brakes on a car says, “We have a saying around here, ‘If the brakes don’t stop it, something else will.’” When it comes to the waitress in the restaurant when the group of friends asks her for recommendations, she says, “The salmon rolls are okay.” When they ask her if it is fresh, she responds, “Sort of,” and proceeds to tell them that the chef that had it that morning is now out sick. And lastly, the tattoo artist who has not drawn the tattoo before putting the needle on his customer, who questions that approach, tells him to, “Stay in your lane bro.”
Each of those examples are intended to be comical, but they also reveal a fundamental truth in our society. We do not put our trust and faith in people, systems, organizations, and products that are “Just okay.” That is especially when it comes to matters of our bodies and safety. As it relates to people such as doctors, we yield to their expertise because we know that they have been through years of education, practice, and experience. Even at the top of their professions they must still learn and adapt in order to remain relevant in what they do. Imagine if we viewed relationship in Christ Jesus and being a Christian in the same way.
How does anyone say they know and have a relationship with God, or call themselves Christian if they haven’t spent time getting to know “Him?” Nowhere else in our lives is it acceptable to claim expertise in something or to boldly declare that you are something without there being proof! God has spent the time to know each and every one of us intimately. “He” wants to be in relationship. We may say it from our mouths, but we haven’t shown that same level of investment in relationship and intimacy with God. The reality is, if we do not take the time to study, which deepens our relationship with God, then we are putting on a front. When we study scripture, God is revealed to us in ways that can’t be experienced outside of doing just that.
While you fast in this Lenten season, let the study of God’s word be a priority for you and your family. The simple fact is that when you do, you learn more about The Lord, how he has worked and continues to work, you receive greater clarity on “His” purpose and will for your life, and you ultimately grow in your relationship with “Him.” We don’t want to be Christians who are “Just okay.” We want to be on fire for God, so that “He” can work in us to help restore, transform, and deliver people, our communities, and our world!