I can speak openly about my faith, worship at a church that is known to my town and government every week, and own as many copies of the Bible as I can fit on my bookshelves. I often don't take advantage of that freedom. In fact, I didn't go to church this week. It can be altogether too easy to come up with excuses to sit out for a week of church.
In chapter 2 of Radical, David Platt talks about meeting with believers in an underground house-church. They took painstaking efforts to make sure no one would detect their meetings. When he spoke for a few hours, they decided it was not enough. They needed to hear more. They needed to learn more. They asked to be taught about God's Word all day...for the next 10 days.
"God's Word is enough for millions of believers who gather in house churches just like this one. His Word is enough for millions of other believers who huddle in African jungles, South American rain forests, and Middle Eastern cities.
But is his Word enough for us?" -Platt, p. 26Sadly, I can't imagine wanting to study the Bible for the bulk of my day for days on end. How selfish am I? I'm diligent about my evening quiet time. I have my stack of go-to verses that I try to meditate on. Though I talk to God throughout the day, reading my Bible can become part of the day's to-do list. I don't often crave my time with God. While this has been stirring in my mind and my heart in recent years, I haven't known what to do with it until reading about a group of underground house-church members shamed me. They would do anything for the freedoms we have and I have squandered it for far too long.
Is God's Word enough for me? My gut reaction is "yes, of course, no doubt about it." Do I live that way? I fear not. When is the last time I wanted to read the Bible as much as I wanted to read whatever book I'm currently inhaling? Or have I ever wanted to read the Bible as much as said book? I say that "God is my everything" but if this were true, I think I would want to have a morning quiet time, in addition to my evening quiet time. I would consistently and constantly look forward to spending time with God. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't miss out on an opportunity to go to church or any forum that would allow me to learn more about God. If given a choice between the Bible and some other book, the Bible would be my first choice.
I always go into my time with God with an open heart but not always with ears that are willing to hear and patient enough to wait. Sometimes it's easier to listen to the pastor or go to the Bible study or read the latest buzzed about Christian Living book instead of simply and quietly listening to God Himself. These things all have a place and God certainly uses them in our lives but I'm realizing that they're not a substitute.
Just as I was started to wrap my mind around this, Platt dropped another bomb on me. How much of our understanding of the gospel is American and how much is biblical? Do I see God holistically or do I choose to view Him with warm fuzzies? If we don't view God with fear and trembling, we will never fully appreciate His loving, merciful side. You can't ignore His judgment and wrath if you want to experience the beauty of the cross. They go hand in hand.
This means we have to own up to who we are. I am a sad mess of a person who is hopefully, by God's grace, becoming slightly less messy every day. It is a daily choice. I can sink back into my self-esteem problems or I can declare "Dead to that!" whenever a negative thought comes to mind. It's been a process and I am grateful that I am not who I was. There is no part of me that can do it on my own. I take it as proof that I will never be "good enough" to get into heaven. Until I grasp that I am hopeless without Christ, I will never realize my need for Him.
Still, it's easy in our day to day lives to forget that we need Christ. Our sins don't seem that bad and so we continue on our merry way. Why is it that those little sins eventually add up to a mountain of sin? I am reminded that perhaps where I need to start is having God point out those areas of sin that I have become numb to. Sanctification is not fun but it is necessary. I don't want to be numb to the areas of my life that God hates. I forget that he hates sin, all of it.
This is why I am thankful for grace. I am thankful for the reminder of grace at salvation and grace in my daily life. I am praying that I will view God as enough. That I will desire Him alone. That I will daily recognize my need for Him, not just when I mess up but an honest appreciation of who He is. I think if or when this happens I will be less caught up in the things that I want in this life. I want to get married and raise a family, some days more than anything. Waiting to meet Mr. Right might not weigh as heavily on me if my greatest priority is better knowing God and seeking His heart and if I truly believed that "he is indeed the great reward of our salvation."
Most days I don't live as if I believed Christ is my greatest reward. Living radically may mean I will sacrifice my dreams and this scares me like nothing else. While my spirit is willing, my flesh is weak. Lord, help my heart to be aligned with yours.
This post is part of the Radical Read-Along hosted by the fantastic Marla Taviano.