The other day I viewed part of a pastor’s message which encouraged believers to be responsible for their spiritual health. He was concerned that believers were being too reliant on their weekly visit to their local church and then blaming the church for not feeding them spiritually. He reminded his listeners that if they were not being satisfied in their spiritual lives, then maybe that was simply the result of their not taking personal responsibility for times of spiritual nourishment the other six days of the week.
For all of the church’s whining about being a “relationship” and not a “religion”, I found myself thinking two things.
1. With all of the devotional tools available to believers (devotional books, Bibles, Bible study books – both physical and electronic versions) we should be spiritual giants. If someone is saying they are spiritually unfulfilled, they are basically admitting to be spiritual couch potatoes since much of the growth in one’s spiritual life is dependent upon their own best efforts. It seems to be that the church yells long and loud about loving Jesus, but then it feels like it is so much lip service and words. If we really loved Jesus, would we ever make a claim of being unfulfilled spiritually?
2. I only viewed one very small portion of the pastor’s sermon, so my additional thoughts may not apply to his message – but why do pastors insist upon examining every word in the passage and tell amusing stories and poignant anecdotes, but then close the message having spent their listener’s time on giving them meaning? Where is the application? Where is the analysis that explains how the passage works in real life. How should we then live if we understand the passage.
One of my favorite pastors would complete his sermon exposition and, as he had taught his congregation, they would ask him one question – in unison. He would give the congregation their cue and they would all yell out to the pastor, “SO WHAT?”
Why? Because the pastor wanted them to get to the bottom line of the passage – the application. He had spent time explaining the text and giving everyone an understanding of what the verse meant, but from that “SO WHAT” point, the balance of the message would be focused on what the verse meant TO THE BELIEVER. It was great; he would give listeners the added understanding of how the verse would operate in life.
As I have said repeatedly whenever I’ve talked about Bible Study, one has not finished studying the Bible until they have been able to apply the Bible. Facts are not good enough. How does it FUNCTION in a believer’s life?