Sometimes I just need coffee with my friends. I don't want a phone call, or a text; I don't want the FB update across my feed or the Instagram pictures of the family. I desire more- I long for face-to-face talking and catching up. I grow tired of the secondhand information about them and the online media interaction... I want flesh and blood companionship and meaningful relationship building.
Can anyone else relate?
I betcha God does.
We live in unparalleled informational times dear ones.Wow, is there a lot of stuff out there available for us! There are so many Christian and religious resources; how-to books, self-help books, parenting books, books about marriage, relationships, friendships, prayer, cooking, and time management. There are books about how to have better quiet times, how to read your Bible, how to connect with people, how to connect with God. Shoot- there are books about books about how to do all these things! There are books about how to write books about these subjects. The list goes on and on.
And I'm not even including 'non-book' information. If I included the blogs, articles, magazines, FB posts, memes, tweets, VLOGs, YouTubes, podcasts, Periscopes, or videos... the list of resources to the Christian community is overwhelming. Sermons, books, ideas, and information can be (and are) available on multiple platforms, for various needs at various times. Don't have time to read those sermon notes? No worries, you can listen to the podcast! Don't worry about buying that book, it's available on Kindle. Need to find a verse quickly? Google two keywords and you'll have it in every language known to man. We love us some great spiritual caffeine!
You see what I'm getting at? Our information resources about God, Jesus, the Bible, etc etc. are huge. This knowledge base is unprecedented in history. We are living in a time when the opportunity and potential for wisdom and understanding of God has never been higher and more readily available to us. Any form, reading/writing/listening, is accessible on multiple platforms, in multiple languages, 24/7/365.
And yet, I fear that we as Christians are actually getting less information. We are missing the Maker! We are losing spiritual ground; and it is directly related to the fact that we don't know our Creator.
And we don't know our Creator because we don't know our Bible. We don't know THE WORD... for ourselves.
This has made us more vulnerable to attack and false information than ever before.
Despite the fact that all these resources are available, I am alarmed by how many people have exchanged actually reading the Bible for themselves with this myriad of human wisdom instead. Don't get me wrong, there are many, MANY amazing resources and writing that beautifully complement, agree with, and point back to scripture. As I writer and author myself, I absolutely think that God has and continues to speak through people and they in turn put that word to paper for the masses. It happens. I hope it happens a lot. I hope it continues to happen a lot (or this whole writing thing may not last... I think I'll keep my day-job for now!)
And yet, none of that, no matter how good or wise it is... can ever replace simply reading and studying the Bible. In the same way that 'keeping up' through social media will never replace the relationship building of spending time together in person, so also will reading lots of books or blogs (mine included!) or listening to podcasts of sermons, not ever replace the quiet time spent between you and Him within the pages of actual scripture. The Bible is the incomparable resource and one that cannot and must not ever be replaced by or substituted with other authors and writings. Ever. Holy Scripture cannot be measured by the same ruler- it alone is the Word of God and we MUST know His word!
Because quite simply without it we are lost. We have no personal foundation to spiritually concrete ourselves into. Not knowing scripture, for ourselves, leaves us open to all sorts of issues- both from outside the 'Christian' community and from within.
How will we recognize bad doctrine if we don't first know good doctrine? Believe me, there is a TON of extremely popular, extremely well-followed BAD doctrines out there... led by false teachers (some malicious, some just misled). But how will we know what is false if we don't know what is true first? Or what about properly quoted scripture that's used in the wrong context? This happens all the time with people trying to get the Bible to 'fit' their argument.
The complications from within the Christian community are numerous and not all that is taught, preached, written about, or published is good and accurate Biblical information. It's just not. We have to put everything that claims to be of Christ against the ONLY measurement of such a thing... the Bible. And we have to know that for ourselves, not because someone else told us. Because the "word of God" can quickly become like a spiritual game of 'telephone', and you never know how far down the line your call comes supposedly speaking "truth".
Furthermore, how can we withstand attacks from the enemy without having a firm and practiced hand with the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God)? Dear ones, the ONLY offensive weapon we are given against Satan IS the Bible! How are we to fight without knowing it intimately for ourselves? I assure you, the Devil and his cohorts know the Bible! Not 'their version' of it... the very one we use. And I also guarantee they probably know it better than we do and they will not hesitate to turn a phrase, twist a meaning, or incorrectly quote it if they think we'll let them get away with it! If Satan had the audacity to quote actual scripture to Christ during His temptation in the desert, then what makes us think he would use anything less with us? I hope that sobers you as it does me. How are we to be effective in not only keeping ground but taking ground from the enemy if we are not practiced up? It's like the contrast between watching a YouYube video on how to sword-fight and actually owning a sword and physically taking sword-fighting classes with it... there's a big difference in skill level right? Secondhand information, no matter how good and pure, will always be just that...secondhand information.
God wants to have 'coffee' with us. He wants one-on-one, relationship building, intimate and open, honest and raw time spent together. He wants us to meet with Him, intentionally and purposefully, to spend time just with Him... and no one else. Sometime He just wants to speak TO YOU and not through anyone else. This happens in our prayers and in our quiet times in the Bible itself. I'm not arguing that He can't or won't meet us in another book, in a podcast, or in a blog. What I am saying is that none of those will ever replace the living, breathing, vibrant, timely and timeless Word of God spoken or read directly into our hearts. At some point, friends, we have to start taking ownership of our own walk and relationship with Christ. No one can do that for us, and we cannot get everything we need from secondhand sources, no matter how great and scriptural they may be! Our faith must be our own... not our pastor's, our parent's, our friend's, our favorite author's, speaker's, or musician's.
I'm purposefully not throwing scripture quotes into this blog. I want you to go back to the Bible and see if what I'm writing about is scriptural... I hope you do that with ALL your resources and bits of information. Test everything dear ones! Does the information line up with the Word of God... do you know it to be Truth (which, again, kinda important you know what truth is to begin with right?! You can't test anything out without first knowing the correct answer.)
We need to make this relationship thing personal my friends. Between just Him and just us as individuals... one-on-one, getting to know each other and growing in our relationship. It has to happen and we must be diligent and committed to our side of the bargain- BEING IN THE WORD. God's coffee shop is always open, always ready, always waiting for our visits. He is there waiting there to have a cup with you- not your pastor, your parents, your friends, your blogger, your mentor... YOU!
He, like all our other sources, is available 24/7/365.
So in place of that next great chapter to read or that next podcast you really want to hear, if you're not regularly in the Word... I encourage you to make time for your own Bible study/coffee date instead. Have coffee with your Creator more often, and I promise it'll be the best, most spiritually refreshing/challenging/refining/sobering/tremendous dose of spiritual caffeine you find anywhere!