The first part of this 3-part series, “Get Your Own Tape”, Part 1, reminded us that, after a while, Christians need to get the point where we should no longer have to rely solely on others to feed us spiritually. The second part, “Get Your Own Tape”, Part 2, focused on increasing our intake of spiritual food. There is one more point to be made in this series:
When we grow as Christians, our level of learning should deepen. Take a look at Hebrews 5:12-14, where the writer chides his readers for not moving beyond the basics.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Hebrews 5:12-14 NASB
At some point, we need to move past the Bible stories from children’s read-along storybooks, and the easy-to-illustrate passages from the Bible that are taught in Vacation Bible School. These initial sources can still be valuable contributors to our maturity, so if you have kids (or if you are shepherding a newer Christian), don’t stop reading the Bible with them and teaching them in ways they can understand. However, these easily “digestible” parts of the Bible are not all that we will find in Scripture, and we should not limit ourselves to them.
So, how do we deepen our understanding of God? Try these habits:
- Read all of the Bible. I know that I’ve been guilty of wanting to just read parts of the Bible that are easy to understand, or that I already know well. But, don’t stop there. Read the book of Revelation. Read all of Genesis, and not just the stories we know. Read Leviticus (no, really!). Read those obscure books in the back of the Old Testament. Read the gospels all the way through – multiple times. Read the little books that are usually listed just before Revelation. One thing that has helped me is that, when my wife and I read from the Bible to our kids at night, they have asked us to read all the way through. This has challenged us to go through books that we might otherwise be tempted to skip over.
- Listen to a variety of Christian speakers. There are some whose focus is on evangelism and reaching out to those who either 1) don’t know Jesus, or 2) have recently decided to follow Him. These men and women are invaluable to the body of Christ (the church). Complementing their work, though, are preachers and speakers who dive deep into the more challenging parts of the Bible, and talk about theology and difficult – but important – topics. Challenge yourself to learn from all kinds of speakers. (And yes, there are a few great Christian speakers – both historically and today – who can do both. They have received a true gift from God to share with others from many stages of the Christian walk.)
- Read great Christian authors. A “great” Christian author refers you back to God, the Bible (God’s word), and truths from history (God’s illustrations). I heard once that every generation needs people who have the time to really study the important things, and summarize it for the rest of us. Don’t be bummed out if you don’t have time to study obscure texts, or to learn Hebrew and Greek. Instead, thank God that He has provided those who do have this ability, and who write down what they learn for us.
(Full disclosure: I’m not some savant who came up with these ideas, of course. They are the result of common sense, experience, and my own learning from others. I think that you’ll find many others who share the same suggestions.)
Wherever you are on your journey, may you continue to learn from God’s Word. Amen.