Some of you might think it’s a corny thing to be a follower of Christ who knows their Bible well. You might say that the Bible is archaic and irrelevant to our day, and there are plenty of “cool” books written by followers of Christ that point to what the Bible says in a language that fits with our culture. You might say that reading a Bible too much will make a person a Bible nut-job who spends all their time whacking people over the head with scripture verses, and condemning people to hell. You might say that reading the Bible too much will turn you into a typical “Evangelical”, that never swears, never enjoys a beer, wears nothing but pleated pants, all the while talking in silly clichés like “We need to hate the sin and love the sinner!” And I can see why you would think this, because you look at the culture the system of Christianity has created in our country, and you don’t like it. Yet you still see something good in the character of Jesus, you believe in Him, and you want to be different than some walking stereotype.
Think of it this way, if I said I were a fan of the Beatles, and you were a total die-hard fan, you’d ask me to name my favorite song by them, right? What if I replied to you, “Oh, I don’t know man, I like them all!” You would prod me, wouldn’t you? You would say, “C’mon, you’ve got to have a favorite one!” Well what if I replied, “Well, they’re my favorite band, but I haven’t really listened to them for a long time, maybe like three years.” You’d ask me, “What about their hits like ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’? You have to at least know those! If you were a real fan of them, you’d know their obscure music too!” You’d basically think I was a fraud and a phony.
I think people who don’t know Jesus feel this way about followers of Jesus that don’t read the Bible. And if these people discovered followers of Jesus who didn’t read the scriptures, which are almost completely accurate documents of Jesus’ life, they’d probably wonder why we even say we’re “Christians”.
These documents that make up the Bible were written by people who walked with Jesus through his whole ministry (Peter, John and Matthew), people who had close encounters with Him (Paul), people who grew up with Him as His brothers (James and Jude), and people who were tight with people that encountered Him in a huge way (Mark and Luke). These people would think we’re duplicitous for not knowing our roots, or why we believe what we believe. That kind of faith is obviously just a response to an insincere cultural phenomenon. “Christians” like that come to faith in Jesus because they went to a cool church that had fog machines and good coffee, and got the idea that Jesus was a hip bohemian that hung out with other hip bohemians and smoked cigarettes and criticized the establishment of his day.
The old and new testaments are the foundation of our faith. If we say we’re into Jesus and we don’t study the words that spoke of Him, embodied Him, and came from His mouth, then we’re filled with nothing but misconceptions about Jesus’ identity.
The system of Christianity that is in place in America understands the importance of knowing the scriptures really well. That’s why some factions of corporate Christian America have nearly deified the role of the “Pastor-Teacher”. They can be perceived as merely the CEOs of mega-churches, because they have all the knowledge, and people who long for the quick consumer fix of Christianity flock to them to get a jolt of encouragement. Why blame the Middle Class for this attitude? If we call ourselves followers of Christ, we should want know and understand what the Bible says. Then that text will infuse into our being, and come oozing out of our pores in every encounter we have with people, whether in a bar, an alley in the ghetto, a university class, or sipping coffee and talking philosophy with local coffee house rats.
We’re blowing it in our generation by flushing everything “the system” stands for down the toilet! The reason why the baby-boomer evangelical Church is surviving in America is because the teaching is from the scriptures, and we need to know our scriptures too! We ought to know our scriptures inside out, enough to point to all of the passages that tear down materialism, greed and religious hypocrisy, as well as the passages that should convict our generation, to pursue lives of purity and righteousness, ultimately leading to God’s Holiness.
So let me propose a “new” idea that should not be new at all to our movement of believers. Let’s study theology. Let’s be developed in Biblical doctrines, and continually changed by what God’s Word says.
…as a result, we will no longer be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we can grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ… (Ephesians 4:14-15)