The temperature outside dropped dramatically a few weeks ago, giving Houstonians a chance to dig in the back of our closets for those few items of winter wear that we only get to use for a few days each year.
Too bad too many of us treat our Bibles like out winter wear in a hot, humid climate. We place them on a shelf and let them gather dust for much of the time, only pulling them from their nests when we trek to church on Christmas Eve or Easter.
The problem with approaching our Bible like our winter clothing is that when we reach a day when we really need the Words that are our most direct connection to the living God, we have no idea how to find the answers that would serve us best.
What a comfort it is to know, for example, that even a man like David, who loved God with everything that was in him, who was referred to in the Holy Word as a man “after God’s own heart,” could stumble spectacularly. When we stumble and think that God won’t want to hear from us, we can turn to the example David set for us. Even knowing that he deserved to be punished for his sin of adultery, David continued to plead with the God he served, whom he knew to be loving and good, to spare the life of the son who was the result of David’s sinful union with Bathsheba.
David’s life gives us even more insight into God’s love for us. With his heart, so much like God’s, David not only doesn’t hate his son Absalom when that rebel kills his own brothers and tries to usurp the throne from David, but also mourns Absalom’s death as if Absalom were the most perfect child on earth. Only a truly, deeply-loving heart could mourn the death of this rebellious son as David does. In fact, David is so overwrought when he is told of his son’s death, that he has to be told to buck up before he makes his own triumphant soldiers, who have backed him and protected him, feel like utter failures instead of the victors they really are.
If you rarely crack open this Book that is your most visible, accessible link to an Almighty, All-Knowing God, you are vulnerable to the lies this world and the devil, who has full reign in this fallen world, love to tell you. You believe that the only thing a person has to do to get into heaven is be basically good. As long as the good things you do outweigh the bad things you sometimes participate in, then you’ll turn out all right in the end. You start measuring yourself against the wrong yardstick, which is the people around you who also claim to be mostly good as opposed to measuring yourself in view of the lessons and dictates of the Holy Word in its totality.
A person who rarely cracks the thin pages of the Word may fall victim to blasphemies that sound comforting and reasonable from a secular perspective but have no foundation in the truth of the Word. You might believe, as a friend explained to me once, that as long as someone who really loves you asks for your soul to be with Jesus, then you are saved, whether or not you actually accept Christ as Savior yourself. You might find that the concept you have of heaven and hell are more in line with Milton’s Paradise Lost or Dante’s Inferno than the heavenly throne in Revelation where the angels dance.
It is a universal truth that failing to believe in anything makes you vulnerable to the fault of falling for everything. Never has it been more important to have a knowledge base of truth that allows you to weigh that truth against the vagaries of an internet-driven world. You cannot recognize the truth according to God if you only ever study His truth every once in a great while. And the only place to find that truth is in His Holy Word.
Cold-weather theology is like assuming you could learn three chords on a guitar, play them once every four to five months and then give a concert of guitar playing that would make the audience weep. You’d be much better served treating your Bible, not like cold-snap sweaters and scarves, but like the crisp, clean underwear you never leave home without. Even a little daily attention to your Holy Bible can go a long way toward growing your relationship with the Holy Creator.