Over and over again, studies show the most important thing for spiritual growth is reading the Bible, yet most people in the church aren’t doing it. Only 45% of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. For each church attender who does read their Bible every day, there’s someone else who doesn’t read it at all.
I say this as a pastor who talks to people every week, inside and outside the church, with next to no biblical knowledge. The most concerning thing is that there doesn’t seem to be a distinction between those who are new to the faith and those who isave been Christians for several years, sometimes even a decade or more.
Why is it that despite the evidence, despite our sincere longing to grow spiritually, we don’t do the one thing most capable of producing that growth?
In my experience, there are two main reasons people don’t read their Bible. The first is that people honestly don’t understand the Bible holds transformational power. Second, they don’t read the Bible because they don’t know how to find delight in reading it. Both issues are worth understanding in more detail.
I know—that’s a heavy question. But all of us ask it of ourselves at some point, and I guarantee some of the people in your group are asking it right now. We come up with standards we think will make us into the person we want to be, but we end up feeling crushed beneath the weight of it all. So what hope is there when you feel like that? Listen to this week’s episode to find out.
(Episode length: 15 mins)
Main idea: There’s only one Person who can bear the weight of living.
All of us are trying to live up to something
The tendency today is to set up some standard for yourself then judge your value and self-worth based on how well you think you’re performing next to your standards
We’re all bound to something; we’re all trying to live up to something
The weight of living is crushing
When you make your performance the measure of your self-worth and value, then you will always be crushed beneath the weight
Every one of our life-lies can and will be taken from us at some point because everything in this life is temporary
Jesus can bare the weight
Jesus didn’t promise for us not to be yoked to anything—he promised to give us rest, relief, from the weight of living, if we yoke ourselves to him instead
If your heart has been gripped by the gospel, sooner or later you’ll find yourself asking, “Where is God calling me to go?” That’s a normal question, because the gospel that saves is also the gospel that sends. That doesn’t make it an easy question, though, because it creates all kinds of follow-up questions.
Does God want me to go overseas? Does He want me to quit my job and work for a ministry? Or does He want me to stay where I am when I thought it was clear I had to go?
In the church, we talk a lot about “following Jesus,” or being a “Christ-follower.” But I fear that this is one of those terms we can hear so much that we become numb to what it actually means, or we assume we know what it means when we haven’t really thought much about it at all. When you look closely at what Jesus said, you might find that following him means something different than you thought.
Main idea: A disciple is one who responds in faith and obedience to the gracious call to follow Jesus Christ. Following Jesus is a lifelong process of dying to self while allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us.
What “following Jesus” really means
The word “disciple” literally means learner, but in Jesus’ day that meant something closer to apprentice
A disciple responds in faith and obedience
Responding in faith to Christ, then, means we are assured, we are confident, in his promises of salvation, restoration, and eternal life
But responding to Christ’s call to follow him is not merely about faith – it’s also about obedience, or doing what Jesus tells us to do
If we have truly put our faith in Christ, then our inward transformation will have outward results
The gracious call to follow Jesus
We accept a gift that we graciously given to us by God through Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection (Eph. 2:1-10)
Following Jesus is a lifelong process
Following Jesus is a decision to enter into a pattern of recreating our lives to look more like his
God will see the work He began in us to completion (Phil. 1:6)
Dying to self while allowing Jesus to come alive in us
Jesus calls us to say no to ourselves so we can say yes to him
As we deny ourselves, we make more and more room for Jesus to take up residence in our hearts and minds
Mark Zuckerberg recently said he believes Facebook can become a force for community organization, much like churches or little league sports. His comments have prompted reflection on both the Church’s place amid a changing cultural, and the role of technology in organizing people. Some scoffed at Zuckerberg’s ambitions, while others asked if Facebook could indeed replace the Church.
Since the future is not for us to know, perhaps the best thing to do with comments like these is to see what they bring into focus and what they fail to see altogether. Lest we think church can easily be replaced, I’d like to turn the attention to what many inside and outside Christianity often fail to see in regards to the Church. God’s design for humans, where Christians find their meaning and the reality of the church’s mission provide us three reasons why Facebook (or any other institution) can’t replace church.