So is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it
~Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)
There is a lot of power in Scripture. Nowhere else does God more clearly share his heart, mind, and character with us than through the gift of his Word. Too often, though, it is easy for me to forget this. As a seminary student and a pastor there is a real danger with becoming too familiar with the Bible. After reading countless commentaries, writing numerous papers, and preaching dozens of sermons on a text, the impact and beauty of the Word of God can be dulled as studying it becomes just one more thing on a long list of to-dos.
That is why I am so grateful that the past two weeks have really rekindled my heart for and awe of the Word of God. It all started a couple of weekends ago when preaching on Mark 5:1-20. This text was difficult for a variety of reasons, but none more so than the fact that it tackles a subject which is so difficult for those in our modern, American context: spiritual warfare. However, as I talked with some of the other pastors and wrestled through the text, it really came alive for me. Through this passage I was brought face-to-face with the beautiful truth that Jesus Christ saves us from nothing less than the powers of death and destruction themselves. It was an incredible reminder of the grace and power of God through Christ.
But that was only the beginning. Partially as a result of that message, and partially due to other connections within the church, I’ve spent the past two weeks talking to a variety of individuals who are really struggling with their faith. While I am not at liberty to discuss the details of those conversations, what has inspired me is how, through our discussions, I’ve had to come back to Scripture over and over again. In fact, during one conversation I found myself answering each question that a person raised with one story from Scripture after another. By the end of our conversation this person responded by saying, “Wow. I never knew all that stuff was in the Bible.”
You see, oftentimes when we talk about the importance of studying Scripture, we talk about it in growth-oriented terms. We emphasize how studying the Bible will help you grow in your relationship with God and strengthen your faith. But over these past two weeks, this reality has taken on another dimension for me. Not only has studying Scripture strengthened my own faith, it has helped me to strengthen the faith of others. By knowing the Word and meditating on it, I’ve found that I’ve had answers to some very difficult questions that others are raising. And that has inspired me to want to study the Bible even more.
One of my former colleagues used to talk about how we only really grow in our faith by giving it away. This truth has been driven home to me over and over again in the past few weeks. The beauty of knowing God’s story is that it not only helps us to know God, but it empowers us to help reconnect others with him. As we learn the story that God is writing, we can help others locate their own stories within it. There truly is power in the Word of God, and we dare not diminish through misuse and overfamiliarity.
My hope and prayer for my congregation, and for the Church as a whole, is that we would once again be captured by the beauty of Scripture. But, more importantly, I pray that we would be captured by the one to whom it points: Jesus Christ. And as we are captured by him, I pray that we would share that story with others; that they would come to know the love of God which surpasses all understanding.
PS If you’re interested in rediscovering the beauty of Scripture, I would invite you to join us in 2013 as our church takes 31 weeks to look at the grand narrative of the Bible through the use of The Story. You can get more info by visiting our website at www.tlc4u.org.