Is God and the Bible only for certain people—those with a special interest in that kind of thing? Or is it something that everyone not only can, but absolutely ought, to learn?
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and m members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)
Many people feel that religion and God are only for certain kinds of people—priests and pastors and teachers, and maybe some regular people who have an excessive interest in spiritual things. They feel that just as not everyone is interested in or chooses to pursue the study of science or math or literature, not everyone need study the Bible. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.
Think about learning to speak your native language. Almost everyone eventually learns to speak at least one language. Some pick it up quicker, and for some it takes a little longer, but it is truly the rare individual who doesn’t eventually acquire verbal fluency on some level. The same is true with Biblical fluency.
Just as all people are capable of learning to speak, all people are capable of learning the things God has told us in the Bible about how to live this life, about Himself, and about death, which we will all eventually face. But just as a child locked up in isolation and deprived of access to the spoken word from birth onward will not by himself learn to somehow miraculously speak, people who isolate themselves from any exposure to the Bible will not learn about God. Whether by not going to church, not listening to Biblical teaching on the radio, TV, or other electronic media, by not spending time learning one on one from others who know these things, or simply at its most basic level, by not picking up a Bible and reading it, if we do not expose ourselves to some source of information on this issue, how are we to learn? Yet with so many different ways available through which we can learn, why do many people still not do it?
The primary reason is prejudice. When we speak of prejudice, we usually refer to a preconceived notion toward a certain group of people, but we can also hold some very firm prejudices toward certain behaviors. If I believe that religion is like any other area of study that is to be pursued only if I have a special interest in it, it goes to follow that if I have no special interest in it, I will not pursue it. But if I realize that unlike other areas of study, religion and my personal relationship with God is the one area that everyone needs to immerse themselves in, I will look at this from a completely different perspective.
I will understand that just as everyone needs to learn to speak to each other, everyone needs to speak to God. Just as people need to read to have the information they need to properly function, they need to read the Bible to have the information they need to function correctly on the spiritual level—to have the wisdom to know how to live their lives in relation to others and to the God who made them and to whom they will give an account when they die. They will see that just as we seek one another out because we enjoy it and learn from each other, it is important to spend time with people who know God so they can learn from us and we from them.
Ultimately, each of us has an emptiness in our souls which looks for answers to the question of our existence and seeks to be filled. French mathematician and scientist Blaise Pascal, in his work Pensees,said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
The Bible tells us to, “…seek the LORD your God” and promises “…you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29) God is gracious; as we recognize our reponsibility and begin the task, He blesses our efforts so we really do learn. We are also instructed to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing (handling) the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15) with the goal that we be “useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21b) There is a purpose to our learning what God says beyond simply satisfying the longing in our soul. When we know what it is that God wants us to do we are much better equipped to do it.
Learning what God has to say to us in the Bible isn’t just for certain people, any more than learning to talk is only for some. It is for everyone, because just as everyone has the need to be linguistically functional—to be able to function in the physical world in which we exist—everyone has a need to be spiritually functional—to know how to live, what God expects of us, and what we can expect when we die.
Thank You that You do not hide from us when we look for You. Please impress upon us the need to become functional in the things You want us to know, and we thank You for Your help. Amen.