Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 17, 2020
If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free! John 8:31-32
Do you remember sword drills? For some of you, this phrase carries little to no meaning or memory. However, as a Christian kid in the 1990s, these words to this day awaken within me a fierce spirit of “holy” competition. With bragging rights for the coming week on the line, the entire Sunday School class would pull out their Biblical swords and made ready for a great battle over who could find a Bible verse the quickest. To the victor, the spoils were plentiful: a W.W. J.D. bracelet, an Adventures in Odyssey cassette tape set, or the much-coveted camouflage Bible cover.
To be honest, I reflect upon these formative years with a mixture of both nostalgic gratitude and sorrow in my heart. On the one hand, I am profoundly grateful to my parents and church community for helping me to know and love the Scriptures and to see the central place that they are meant to have within our Christian life. However, on the other, it is equally painful to sit and think of the many friends and peers with whom I shared these experiences, who now as adults have entirely abandoned their belief in God and faith in Jesus. And yet as I reflect on this sobering truth, I do not believe it was primarily a lack of knowledge that kept them from persevering in the faith. These are the memories and emotions within my heart and mind today as I sit with the words of our Lord: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!” Without clarity on what Jesus means by “the truth,” you and I will never know true freedom.
One of the great errors of my formative years of faith was to separate the “facts” of the Christian faith from a living encounter with Jesus Christ. When my faith was weak and God felt distant, I assumed a lack of knowledge was to blame. The solution therefore was simply to double down on Bible study and/or theological inquiry. Yet rarely if ever has knowledge in the form of isolated facts or even dogmatic statements transformed a human heart, helpful as both may be. You and I do not read the Bible to expand the library of our knowledge but to encounter the living Truth to which it faithfully points.
To be clear, Scripture reading is meant to be an essential daily habit for all followers of Jesus. Yet the way in which we approach this practice makes all difference. We do so, not out of obligation, neither out of historic curiosity or purely academic interest. No, we fundamentally long to see God, and therefore must learn to daily linger in the places where our Lord has promised to meet us. Only then will we know the freedom of faith in Jesus Christ. As St. Paul reminds us:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Lord Jesus, we long to know you and encounter you in and through your written word. Guide us by your Spirit as we pursue you daily and enter into the freedom you promise. Amen.
Do you have a consistent habit of daily prayer and Scripture reading? If not, what is one step you can take today in that direction?
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