“Why do people die spiritually?” a friend of mine asked me recently, referring to believers who no longer seemed to want to be involved in the work of the church. “What makes someone lose interest in spiritual things?” I have also been musing on this subject for some time. Coincidentally (or not!), the very nature of my relationship with this particular friend led me to a possible answer.
My friend and I met via an internet forum. She lives half a world away, but we were brought together through a mutual admiration for each other’s work online and began to get acquainted through e-mail. We then discovered each other’s blogs and began to read through the entries. I quickly realized that, as much as I enjoyed getting to know my new friend through the almost instant methods of e-mail and private messaging, it was through her blog that I could really learn about her character, history, philosophy–her heart. There I can come to understand more about who she was before we met, how she got to where she is today, how she interacts with others in her life. I can’t talk to her face to face; we can’t sit down with cups of tea and have a heart-to-heart talk in person. So I read her blog, and she reads mine, and this is how we each learn who the other truly is.
I hope the analogy I’m drawing here is clear. I certainly believe that God speaks to us directly in our day-to-day lives, moving in our hearts and minds to guide us in an intimate and immediate way. However, like the e-mails my friend and I exchange, this more direct communication generally addresses the concerns and events of the here and now. In order to fully know God–His character, history, philosophy: His heart–I must study His blog.
Yes, my friends, God kept a blog for quite a long number of years. Of course, the internet had not been invented when He started writing His blog. He used the cutting edge technology of the day by dictating His entries to His various secretaries, who inscribed them on scrolls of parchment. These blog entries (we call them “books” today) purposed to tell the world who God is, describe His character, and explain His workings through history and through individuals as He strove to accomplish redemption for His creation. The way to learn who God really is, therefore, would be to read His Word.
I believe that many Christians fall away from true faith because they neglect the one thing that would bring them more fully into it: they fail to study God’s Word. I know my friend will understand what I mean when I admit that, if our friendship were based solely upon our brief e-mails to each other, our relationship would be shallow and largely imaginary. Without the insight of our blogs, we would have no foundation upon which to build a true representation of each other’s character. We would be forced to rely on what little information we could glean through a few sentences or paragraphs and would most probably draw many wrong conclusions about each other’s motivations and philosophies. We would, in fact, be inventing each other in our own minds based upon our own experiences and thought processes rather than actually learning the truth we reveal about ourselves through our written works. After all, it is a fact that in order to truly know another person, one must see that person’s actions in many different circumstances and watch them interact with a wide spectrum of other people. My friend and I cannot observe one another in person, but through our blogs we can “see” each other as we truly are.
When I asked my friend’s permission to use her as an example in this blog entry, she replied, “I would be honoured if you wanted to use me as an example. That’s why I’m on earth you know.” Her answer brought to my mind another reason Christians may fall away from the faith when they do not study the Scriptures. If you wanted to read an example of what living out the love and compassion of Christ looks like in this modern world, you need go no further than to read my friend’s blog! She is daily living out her faith in tangible ways that brings hope and change to those around her. And this is another purpose of God’s Word. In I Corinthians 10, Paul warns us to pay attention to the history of Israel. “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did,” he tells us in verse 6. And again, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us,” he says in verse 11. He was speaking of negative examples, of course, but there are many instances of positive examples and exhortations of how God wants us to live our lives throughout Scripture. Unless we study His Word, we can only guess at what He wants for us and what He expects from us.
My friend told me a few days ago that she had been visited in person by another such internet acquaintance. After a year of e-mails and reading one another’s written work, their first face-to-face meeting was perfectly comfortable. She said it felt as if they’d known each other all their lives. Commenting on the analogy she knew I was attempting to write about in this blog entry, she concluded: “. . .like my friend from—–, when Jesus comes in person and I see Him face to face it will be like ‘old times’ and we will be completely comfortable in each other’s presence.” God forbid we should ignore the singular opportunity to get to know Him so personally through His revealed Word, so that we can indeed be comfortable in his presence when we see Him face-to-face at last!
“Why do people die spiritually?” Well, I believe one reason is that they do not value God’s Word and pour over it as if their very lives depended on it. This is more than unfortunate, because it really does. It is the blog God gave to us as a direct line to His mind and heart. We neglect so great a gift to our own peril and detriment.