Dear American Christianity: Part Three

It’s not up to your pastor for you to grow spiritually.

In our church-hopping, nobody’s-the-boss-of-me American culture, it can be easy to fall for this.  You go to a church because you like the teaching, or the music, or the approximate average age of the folks in attendance.  And you treat it like you would a rock concert.  You show up, take your seat, and prepare to be entertained, or challenged, or offended.  If you aren’t entertained, or challenged, or offended, that offends you.

It’s time to take personal responsibility for your life.  First of all, when you join a church, you should treat it like a marriage on a smaller scale.  Membership vows are serious, and you should take them seriously.  And you should join the church, not just “attend.”  Then, once you join, you should be proactive to find ways to grow.  It’s up to you.  Obama’s not going to pay your mortgage, and your pastor shouldn’t have to spoon feed you spiritual truth, chopped up into bite-size pieces.

I am constantly shocked at how many folks are in the church for years and still haven’t read their Bible all the way through.  Yeah, there are some heavy parts.  I am in 1 Chronicles right now, and so few people have read it that Bruce Wilkinson made a killing by picking a verse nobody’s read about Jabez and writing an out-of-context book about it.

There are entire people groups that don’t even have a Bible in their language, and we can’t read all the way through the one in our language, that’s been around since the 1300’s?

It will take picking up the Bible, reading until you turn the page twice, and then repeating that process every day, to read through the Bible in a year. If you read slowly (150 words per minute) and read every chapter 2 times, it will take you 172 hours to read the entire Bible.  That’s not much. And the average adult reads faster than that.

Study your Bible, until you learn how amazingly Jesus earned all of God’s favor, how every story in the Bible points to Him, and how sinful and broken you are without him.  Then study it again, because you’ll forget.

There are hundreds of great Bible-reading plans out there.  Check out YouVersion and get started.  I lengthened my plan out to about a year and a half, and I’m 6 months deep.  One of my favorites (and one that took me about 3.5 years to get through from 2002-2006) is the shirkers and slackers plan (scroll to the bottom of that great article for a link to the actual plan).

It’s up to you.  I know you are busy.  Take responsibility for your own spiritual growth.  The fact is, those folks that expect their pastor (or small group leader) to be Moses coming down the mountain with God’s new revelation to them are the ones that get taken by the latest fads, cults, and con-men.  If you can’t answer why the Trinity is a biblical doctrine, when the Jehovah’s Witnesses show up to your door, you might be fooled by their heresy.  If you don’t know that Jesus promises trouble while in the world, you might be tempted to believe it when the con-man tells you to pray for money and comfort.

The gospel compels us to admit our sin, repent of that sin, and run to Christ who has paid for that sin.  The primary way you ought to run to Christ is in His Word!  In Christ, you have direct access to God!

Be like the Bereans.  They heard Paul teach in Acts 17:11, and went home to check and see if he was legit.

After all, it wasn’t up to Paul for them to grow spiritually.