I was talking with a friend today who said that she is really enjoying digging into the scriptures these days, after years of allowing volunteering and other such good works to be her excuse in avoiding a regular pattern of Bible study. I certainly understand what she is saying, but as I’ve thought more about our conversation, I think she’s more the exception than the rule. Here’s what I’m getting at…
Take a look at your church calendar. How many opportunities are there for folks to “get into the word?” How many Sunday school classes, Wednesday night classes, home Bible studies, small group Bible studies, women’s Bible studies, men’s Bible studies… well, you get the idea. Seriously, count them and see how many.
Now, how many opportunities are on that calendar for folks to live out what they are learning in those Bible studies? Perhaps more to the point, how many folks are actually taking advantage of those opportunities or creating others? How many are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison? If you are a ministry leader, How often are you begging for volunteers?
The balance between study and service
Several years ago, our kids bought their dad one of those home gym things–you know what I mean… they look like an instrument of torture and take up half a room. Anyway, David put the thing together and read the instructions for using it. He also got a subscription to a men’s health magazine and learned about exercise and better nutrition. He could tell you which exercises worked which muscle groups and whether you needed to focus on increasing reps or adding more weight. But here’s the catch… if he had never actually climbed on the gym-thing and used it, all that knowledge would have done absolutely nothing to make him more physically fit. He would just continue to gain weight, get stiff, and have no stamina.
Likewise, a steady diet of Bible study with no practical application runs the risk of producing Bible study gluttons who are puffed up with their knowledge but have no stamina when it comes to service. Endless Bible study with no practical application is a fast track to legalism. (Remember the Pharisees of Jesus’ day?) Not to mention getting bogged down in a mire of unrealistic idealism… (Unrealistic this side of heaven, anyway!) Rightly understood, discipleship requires combining Bible study with pragmatism–feet on the ground, doing the work we are created to do and all the while reflecting on God’s word as we are living it out.
Interestingly, as we use those “calories” (truths we’ve gleaned from our Bible study) through exercising (serving in the ministry God has prepared for us to do), we find we are strengthened in our faith. We also find that we work up a healthy thirst for Living Water and hunger for the Bread of Life. Our spirits need more “fuel” so that we can continue doing the good works we were created to do.
Do the kingdom a favor… help those you lead and serve avoid Bible-study gluttony by finding balance through service!