It’s mid-afternoon. The kids are resting. I’ve got an hour, give or take, to “get stuff done.” I sit down on the couch to relax for just a couple of minutes before moving on to the more important things: dishes, laundry, reading, and if I get to it, a couple minutes with Jesus.
It only takes a few scrolls down a social media site before the words overwhelm. Words. SO MANY WORDS.
So many statuses and quotes and opinions. So many blog posts, condemnations, open letters, personal thoughts, diatribes.
So. Many. Words. More than ever, it seems.
Some of them are GOOD: mind-blowing, ethic-changing, eye-opening. Some will convict and encourage and change, move or challenge.
Others, not so much.
A few are saying words that desperately need to be said.
Many… are not.
But alas, I am sucked down the blackhole that is all the many words because all of them, even the really bad ones, fascinate me.
About one hour, 12 articles, 74 statuses, and 17 rants later, I hear a cry coming from the back bedroom, shocking me back into reality. I realize I just spent my whole 63 minutes of freedom consuming other people’s, often mindless, words. And I feel a little grossed out at myself.
The Regurgitated Gospel
Our feeds might be full of incredibly gifted people: charismatic leaders, academics, eloquent speakers and writers. Many of these word-writers are genuine followers of Christ who are filled with the Holy Spirit and sincerely seeking to help others understand His mysteries. And even these intelligent, spirit-filled guys and gals will somehow come to opposite conclusions on what some consider black-and-white issues. They will do the research and grapple and plead for wisdom and arrive at their own personal determination of TRUTH, write it down, and publish it.
Then, we will find one or two of them whose words are poetic, convincing, and mostly align with the thoughts in our own head, and “Follow” them. And follow them. We will sit at their feet. Their words will disciple us, mold us, shape us. They will be the ones we quote, reference, and talk about. We will buy their books and fill our feeds with their words. We will think what they think, believe what they believe, do what they do. Unwittingly, we will worship them.
Because ultimately, we will rely on them to do what we don’t have the time or the energy or the discipline to do for ourselves: seek God.
Most of us are just getting a regurgitated gospel — one someone else has swallowed, digested and spit back up for us. And we all know, nothing’s ever as good coming up as it is going down. Plus, it inevitably has bits and pieces that weren’t originally there.
We spend time reading others’ wordsABOUT God and count it as time we are spending WITH God, when in fact we are just spending time with PEOPLE who are spending time with God.
If others are willing to do all the hard work for us, why should we?
BECAUSE. No matter what, no matter how smart or savvy or convincing or CHRISTIAN these people are, they are not God. Their words are not God’s. And therefore, they are never 100% infallible.
Awkwardly enough, I contribute to the multitude of words. I am SO human. I write about my human struggles with good intentions. I draw conclusions and read scripture and write prayerfully and hope that my words are always those of the Holy Spirit. And, man, it would be awesome if everything I ever wrote was Truth.
But there’s a good chance that once or twice or a thousand times my humanness will get it wrong. I’ll misinterpret or misunderstand. Even in my best intentions and attempts at perfection, I will miss it wildly.
And based on the lackluster track record of humanity, chances are you and everyone else will, too.
The Good News
But y’all. This is what’s so insane. We have access to God’s OWN words. We can hold them in our hands, see them with our own eyes. How crazy is that? And how crafty is the enemy that he’s blinded us to the mind-blowing awesomeness that THE God’S REAL, SPIRIT-BREATHED WORDS are accessible to us in a leather-bound book?
Yet, we choose earthly men and women above Him because we can see and hear and touch them. We can attend their conferences, buy their books, add them as “friends,” and e-mail them questions.
So we put our faith in their faith instead of investing in our own. We subtly begin sacrificing a relationship with an almighty God for a cheap imitation.
When we begin referencing their books more than His book, we know something has gone whopper-jawed. The only words that are eternally infallible are those of God himself and are found only in one place: the bible. And the fact that we have access to that is not only historically extraordinary but freaking awesome.
So if reading my words is keeping you from reading God’s words, please, stop reading my blog. If reading all the Christian celebrities’ words is replacing reading The Word of the Lord God, stop reading them. These words, no matter how good, are meant to supplement God’s words, not replace them.
If I ever write one string of words that I know is 100% unequivocal truth, it’s this: Jesus is much better than me. So go follow him before you ever Follow me.
Francis Chan recently began a campaign to get people back in God’s Word. Here’s some stuff he’s launched as well as a couple other FANTASTIC resources to help you reclaim your relationship with God.
ReadScripture.org — Read Scripture is Chan’s bible reading app/podcast/movement that brings the bible to life. “Spend quality time reading the Bible daily while learning how to read it with contextual videos from The Bible Project.”
The Bible Project — This is the supplemental material to ReadScripture.org. “The Bible Project is a Portland based non-profit that utilizes short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. We create videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible’s unified story by focusing on its overarching themes and each book’s literary design. We are committed to understanding the Bible in its historical context and communicating its wisdom for the modern world.”
The Bible App — This app has tons of daily reading plans you can sign up for as well as audiobook capabilities. Listen in the car, while eating breakfast, before you go to bed, or just anytime you’d normally scroll through a newsfeed (pointing to myself).
Bible Study Fellowship — Hello, free childcare. That is the biggest selling point, obviously, but ALSO this is an intensive BIBLE study and a community that meets at churches worldwide. You read passages, analyze, and discuss with a room full of searching women (or men). If you want to drastically improve your understanding of scripture, start here.