Most of my childhood was spent in dirt. Diving, falling, sliding, and running. I was eager to follow my brother’s footsteps on the field. Determined to know and master the game – I practiced. Over and over. Multiple times a week and at home in the yard I threw the ball, swung the bat, failed often, and kept trying. I wanted to know the game, understand the game, play the game, and eventually I loved the game; and that love grew as time went on. In the book Gospel Fluency, Jeff Vanderstelt has a whole chapter on this concept. The idea that you love what you talk about and talk about what you love.
Our relationship with God and His word is similar.
The Bible is this beautiful, undeserving invitation into the essence of God. An often intimidating concept, because we have such a finite and limited capacity to understand. It contains languages, cultures, history, genres, authors, and ancient readers. Sixty-six books that are active in the lives of God’s people. That is not something to take lightly – or for granted.
God didn’t have to communicate with us. He could have chosen to be silent. He could have left His creation alone. He could have chosen not to create at all. But He did. And He chose the medium of written word for a reason. That alone should compel us to be a student of His word – to be eager and hungry to understand and know Him.
When we do that, when we become a student of God’s word, three realities happen:
I. BUILDING A FOUNDATION.
The walls of a home rest on a foundation. It is the stabilizer. If the foundation is weak, so is the rest of the structure. Scripture tells us Christ is our cornerstone and faith in Him is like the house built on a rock. We have two important facets here.
A cornerstone is where the builders begin their work. They find a corner that will act as the stronghold, the measurement to base the rest of the layout from. The rest of the building process is dictated by that corner. It is the stone that binds all other stones together – the most important one. Jesus is the cornerstone. God’s redemptive work in all of us centers around His son. And our faith in the Son is our foundation. A house built on assurance, a living hope. The winds and rain aren’t strong enough to knock it down.
We study the Bible to saturate our minds and heart with this truth – to build a foundation on who God says He is and what that means for our lives now. To lay the cornerstone of our faith, binding everything we learn and everything we do to that one, sturdy stone. His word teaches us how to do this and to whom.
II. BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP.
One of the books that was monumental at the beginning of my faith was Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. It wrecked my world. A world that was built on presumptions, trauma, and shame. I had created a God in my head that required a resume for love. That mindset filtered into my activity on weekends – fighting for approval and earning my acceptance. As I continued to live in this misunderstood and misplaced anger, by God’s grace Jesus met me and showed me another way. A way that looked beyond myself and to a cross. The book Not a Fan showed me a God who was personal, not distant.
God desires a relationship with us. Humanity was created to bear His image and reflect His nature by ruling over the earth. We are not an accident. We are purposed for His glory. And when we turned from His graciousness at the fall, that unity broke. Our unity between humanity and God, between man and woman, and man and earth. It became a world not meant to be. Broken. And even still, God sent His son to restore the relationships. Carrying our sins, dying on a cross and resurrecting.
His word is this message. A message of good news, that through Jesus we are redeemed and forgiven. His word tells us the details, shows us the way, and exemplifies the faithful walk. The Bible is God’s communication to us. An invitation to speak with Him, hear from Him, learn from Him, and commune with Him.
By reading the Bible, we are building a relationship. Just as we would intentionally sit down to get to know a friend; the way we would do life with her, serve her, and show up for her; we are to sit down and commune with our savior, doing life with and for Him. We do that by fervently reading the Bible. A discipline we can’t afford to go without.
III. BUILDING A BELIEF.
As I began to build a relationship with God – understand who He was, His attributes and His nature – life became difficult in a way I wasn’t expecting. I lived in a constant tension as I figured out what it meant to live a faithful life. I so desperately wanted to obey my Father and yet all around me were the temptations from my past. Studying the Bible became a fervent daily pursuit for me. I needed my mind to lead my heart towards truth every single day – and that meant knowing what my beliefs were. Where did I stand?
1 Peter 3:15 tells us we should always be ready to give a reason for the belief that is in us. Studying God’s word helps us in moments of weakness, stress, anger, and hurt. As we saturate our minds and discern what we believe then those moments become less blurry and more prominent. Because we’ll know what the Christ-like response is. We would know how to submit our thoughts and actions to our Lord and let His spirit guide us as we walk.
Building a belief is essentially the understanding of our faith. It doesn’t mean we cease having questions or have all of the answers, but it does mean we know exactly who Christ is and what that means for who we are.
Becoming a student of God’s word is more than a one-off desire to read scripture. It is more than a cozy, candle light corner and highlighters; or the feeble attempt to satisfy our emotions with Bible verses. Being a student of God’s word is recognizing God’s ultimate and unconditional love for us. It is choosing to be ready, prepared, and saturated with the living hope and truth from the only God who alone created us. It is feeling the weight of handling His word and wanting desperately to do so rightly.
Similar to the dedication of an athlete to her sport: just as I showed up on the field and at home, failing and trying, desperate to know the game, so too a student of God’s word opens up the pages day after day praising the Father for all that He has done – believing that His truth alone will ever sustain us.