Word Hungry ; June 11, 2014

Sometimes I get "hungry" for words. I get this hankering to surround myself with books and stories and just dive into the words. I pile up devotionals and books about spiritual growth, and I want to have hours and hours just to soak them up. I sometimes look at different translations and paraphrases of the Bible to see if the different words will show me something new. There's a thought in my head that maybe reading something meaningful will automatically translate that meaning into my lifestyle.

But then I realize that words are just words. Words don't have any inherent power in them. Words are sounds put together to represent a meaning assigned to them by the language.

But Jesus is the Word, the Living and Eternal Word. And God chose to incarnate truths about Himself into human language—into just words. But even the words of the Bible can be powerless if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to speak them and breathe His life into them.

I think back to all my theology and Bible classes at JBU. And I don't know if it was the way I approached theological topics, or if it was the way the topics were presented by my professors, that made them seem to lack the life of Jesus in them. I do remember several times when some professors would bring the Living Word into the words—by praying and inviting Him in instead of just talking about Him. But most of the time it was just words.

The further away I get from college, the more I realize that all the talk, all the study, all the discussion and reflection, are dead and lifeless without the Source of Life. The more I realize that I probably would have gained more from those classes by talking to Jesus in my own studies.

So now I wonder about all the talk of "the life of the mind," the importance of the mind in Christianity, all the emphasis JBU placed on the value—the intrinsic good—of thinking, for the sake of thinking.

Now I think: Really though? Is there really any good in thinking just for thinking? Is it inherently valuable to process thoughts?

Because it's possible to think through a theological issue—for example, the Trinity, which was one topic we touched on in most of my classes—and process all the possible facets and perspectives on how God can be three persons in one being, and read all the educated theologians' opinions, and write an extensive paper about it, and when you're finished to not really know Abba, Yeshua, and Holy Spirit any better than you did when you started.

Jesus denounced this behavior in the Pharisees: "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life!" (John 5:39-40)

The words of the Bible are overflowing with life and power, but we can't recognize this until we look at the face of the One who is speaking. Look into the eyes of Jesus while He says those red-lettered words. Look at the kind smile of the Father while He promises good things to His children. Look at the ever-present Holy Spirit while He inspires the apostles' teachings in the New Testament.

When I ignore who is speaking and just read the words, I miss the whole point. The point is to lead me to God—not just to know about Him, but to truly know Him. This should make me approach the Bible with even greater hunger and longing, knowing Jesus is there to find, but if I'm not looking for Him, I won't see Him.

1:23 PM  |  

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