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When I Had No Church-Part Four: Getting Serious About Bible Study

Stephen Sanders
Stephen Sanders
2012 18 Dec

I’ve found that there are two types of Bible readers:

Type A: reads the Bible out of religious duty, but allows some “other thing” to govern their behavior. Maybe that “other thing” is their emotions. Or maybe it’s the laws of the church they serve in. But the Bible isn’t the authority in their decision-making; they never allow the words on those pages to have a true impact in their life. Their priority is quantity over quality.

Type B: takes time to process the Bible. They take the time to wrestle with the things they are reading. They realize the importance of letting the scriptures indicate who God is, how He relates to His creation and ultimately, who we, His creation, are supposed to be. Their priority is quality over quantity.

I’ll never forget the moment I decided that I’d been a Type A, but needed to be a Type B. I was driving home from my grandmother’s funeral a few years ago. I was reminiscing over the life she’d lived, the multitude of people she’d touched, God’s grace upon her life and the lives of her children and grandchildren. I remember being blown away that God used this woman, a widowed little granny who didn’t speak in tongues or cast out demons or hold crusades overseas, allowed God to transform her world. As a result, she touched the lives of so many people.

Up to this point in my life, I’d taken a lot of pride in the life I lived as a Christian. I was on staff at a mega-church. I was being trained to be an assistant pastor. I’d played music on live Christian television. I took great pride in these things because I felt like I was achieving godly prosperity.

You see, all of the godly examples I had in my life were people who had great material wealth and tremendous power over others. People would cheer at their sermons and give them special treatment in public. They prayed in tongues and prophesied. They laid hands on people and they’d fall down from the power of God. They taught college-level Bible classes. They’d travel the world conducting massive crusades with hundreds of thousands in attendance. These people were my heroes.

It’s so funny how your perception can change at the blink of an eye. When I compared the lives of my heroes to the life of my granny, I realized just how shallow and materialistic I’d allowed myself to become. All of those things… the money, the power, the cheers… they were only skin deep. The empire that my heroes spent the majority of their lives building had become the top priority in their lives, and their relationships and the spiritual health of those that followed them had suffered because of it.  

This was the time in my life that I realized that I had to take Bible study seriously. That is why I process the things I read in the scriptures and allow them to mold me. As followers of Christ, we need to allow God’s word to pick us apart and form us into who God wants us to be. Without that, I seriously don’t know if any of us can know what a healthy church really is; if we could ever really trust that the pastors who are supposed to be watching over our souls truly love God, honor His word and love His people.