Today, convictions you have will prompt you to make dozens of decisions: what to wear, what to eat, whether or not to speed on the way to work, how you respond to a subordinate who’s insubordinate, what to do if the other kids are bullying someone in the bathroom, whether to lie or tell the truth in the report–even if it makes you look bad, how much money to spend for a car, whether or not your daughter can stay out after midnight, what color to paint the kitchen, what to do when you realize you were wrong, what magazines or online sites to read, which candidate to vote for, how much money to give away and who to give it to, what movie to see, and who to spend time with.
True, types of beliefs are as varied and shaded as Benjamin Moore paints: beliefs you have about health, economics, aesthetics, relationships, priorities, morality, parenting, marriage, and politics. But make no mistake, they are the engines to your decisions.
For example, deciding what to wear today may well be driven by beliefs about yourself and others. I’ll choose the black shirt for tonight’s date with my wife if I believe that black makes me look especially handsome. The woman wears a low cut blouse on the day she interviews for the promotion believing her male boss can be influenced by a woman’s flesh. Even though a guy’s not overly concerned about his appearance he won’t wear the same shirt Friday he wore Monday because he believes others will notice and conclude he’s dirty, can’t afford many clothes, or is a slob.
On Sunday I will urge the people of our congregation to start reading the Bible regularly this year if they don’t already. My 6-year Bible reading plan takes slackers like me through the Bible in six years (I know some of you SEAL-type Christians do the whole thing in a year), plus has us reread 5 key books annually. Or I’ll suggest finding a plan online or use the one in the back of their Bibles.
I want people to read the Bible because it’s got power. As a faithful but lost churchgoer for many years it was the Word of God that brought me to repentance and faith in Christ. Not just once, it was the “often” listening to God which brought me salvation. So I am impassioned to see people absorb this book as God’s booming voice more than a religious accessory or home accent for the end table.
Reports that a recent Rasmussen poll claims only 25% of evangelical Protestants (that’s us) read the Bible daily, is in sync with a 2003 Gallup poll in which only one in four American Christians said they read the Bible regularly to find direction for their lives. Huh? So how do we find direction? How do we make decisions? How do we know who God is and what he wants? Or who we are and what we should do about it? What yesterday was all about and what today and tomorrow might bring? As “followers of Jesus Christ” how do we know what followership looks like in a marriage, friendship or citizenship? How do we know in what to find hope?
One title I thought about using for Sunday’s message was “Stop having devotions!” I think some of us who do “have devotions”–that is, read a few Bible verses each day so we can say that we did, don’t read with an ear to hear God’s booming voice. We keep religious duties by reading our religious relic, not as one half of the conversation between ourselves and our spellbinding, unbelievable, sacrificing, loving, God. I wonder if that’s worth anything.
Oh, how we need the Bible! Not on the end table or bookcase, but like a lifesaving intravenous drip–over time, it accumulates in our souls to make us more and more like the Jesus Christ who saved and sanctifies us. And yes, it may even affect decisions about what to wear!
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. Psalm 119:9.