As you may know, the typical life of an 11th grader is very hectic. If you add spirituality into an already complex journey through in a culturally-diverse campus, it’s a bitter sweet adventure. The tedious task of juggling with a four-page research paper, the SAT test, planning for college, preparing for finals, all while fullfilling my duties as a leader of a Christian organization. And then, there is the cluster of independent living skills I must work on before I graduate, shortly due to being placed under an IEP.
Despite having such a busy schedule during the week, I am beyond grateful that God has allowed me the opportunity to showcase and improve my academic talents. Most importantly, I thank God for challenging me to think beyond the scope of academic and socially accepted disciplines, and see the bigger picture, which I will admit, is not always pretty.
My leisure time is mainly characterized by watching the news and staying up to date with current events. Other times, I will listen to meditation music while devoting time to growing in my faith: whether it is through writing, examining a passage of Scripture, or just, … doing research into trends within morality and spirituality.
As I continued to mature in my relationship with Jesus, I have come to realize that mainstream Christianity is built on condemnation and hypocrisy. It tells us to feel guilty if we do not read every book in the Bible: cover to cover, or otherwise having gained sound theological knowledge by a certain timeframe. I commonly see this pattern in Christians who set a New Year’s resolution to read the Bible in 365 days. The issue I have with this technique is that it takes away the curiosity and passion that every person walking with Jeschs should have when getting to know more about the God we serve.
Another issue I find in studying the Bible in a time-constructive, fast-paced manner is that it raises the temptation for us to take Scripture out of context, which ultimately leads to confusion, rash judgement, and impulsivity, which allows us to be an easy target for Satan down the road. This ultimately leads to my explanation of investigative study rather than conveninent study when encountering Scripture and its daily references.
My intent in share this presentation is to show you a different way to view Bible study. The process of “investigation” (or what I would call getting our hands dirty).
This semester, my science class did a six-week unit on forensics and criminology. One of our lab projects I did featured the examination of fiber and blood samples taken from crime scenes, as well as researching and analyzing how the FBI conducted investigations against famous kidnappers of the 20th century. I will admit, some of the evidence I found in conducted extensive research were rather too dark and graphic to explain in this presentation.
I think this is the type of mindset Christians need to develop when examining spiritual truth. Think of the Bible as a textbook that goes along with a larger curriculum. Scripture refers to the Holy Spirit as our Teacher who reminds us of the things He teaches us in His Word.
It is a common temptation for Christians to view Bible reading as a “to do item” rather than a necessity for spiritual awareness and growth. Rather than seeing this as an adventure with many discoveries, we often find ourselves viewing this alone time with God as an assignment with a point value.
Today, I challenge you to dig deeper into the Word, beyond the many pages of this sacred book. Now to be clear, I am not saying that the Bible is not a reliable source. In fact, it is our PRIMARY source. Think of your spiritual walk as a comprehensive research project.
I know many of us do not want to believe in this harsh reality, but it must be said with confidence and with boldness. It is not enough for a Christian to memorize Scripture or theological truth through our intellect. Satan knows every single Scripture written on all 66 books. The refusal to understand or accept this truth is exactly why many have fallen victim to common temptations and smooth “scams” from false preachers. I myself am certainly not immune from these temptations, but as I continue to grow in this truth, I am continually aware of these clever schemes. My point is: Head knowledge without spiritual insight is incompatible with growth and maturity in a journey founded on constisent prayer and viligance.
It is a common habit, especially among young people in the faith, to only look at the sweet and encouraging side of the Scriptures. That’s awesome! But, we do not like to look at the “scary” aspects of the Bible: passages that speak of morality and the nature of Saqan. We do not like being told that our favorite pastors, or even our friends are false teachers disguising themselves as well-known superstars.
Brethren, I challenge you to dive deeper, and not just study the medicore aspects of gummy bear entertainment. This will require each of us to do some serious homework. And by homework, I mean, extensive study and a thorough analysis of what we see: Both physically and spiritually. Whether it comes in the form of watching the news, browsing through the Encyclopedia, or just examining a sermon. It’s time that we go beyond the world of Christian clichés and get our hands dirty. Wake up!
I will close this presentation with some words of wisdom from my mother, a devout woman of the faith. My mother always warned me of the danger of giving an advantage to people who disguise themselves as friends, but are a snake in the grass. She always told me to be “ten steps ahead of them” and to always be on my A game, exercising vigilance and caution when the opportunity comes. I pray that we would all seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we “investigate” the deeper aspects of the Christian life, and decipher and unlearn each and every lie Satan has been telling this sin-stricken generation. People, it’s time to use our spiritual eyes and be ten steps ahead of Satan!! Amen!