This comes to mind because our church is encouraging a Bible reading plan for this year. Now, I am all for Bible reading, but it is their motivation for the plan that concerns me. Here are their "8 good reasons to listen to God daily through His Word:
- So my prayers will be answered. (Jn 15:7)
- So my decisions will be wise. (Ps 32:8)
- So I will not sin. (Ps 119:11)
- So I can find comfort. (Ps 119:52)
- So I can get the most out of life. (Josh 1:8)
- So I can know what is true. (Acts 17:11)
- So I can be close to God and learn from Him.(Heb 10:22)
- So I will have hope. (Rom 15:4)
Like I stated already, I am all for the reading of God's word, and I think it is powerful and can transform lives. But I also know that the scribes and pharisees were very devout in their knowledge and reading of God's Word, and that didn't work out so well for them.
Jesus question holds the answer. "Do you love me?" What is our motivation for reading the Word? Is it for what I will get out of it? Or is it because I love God and desperately want to draw closer to Him? Mere obedience does not bring about change. I (try to) obey the speed limit, but that does not make me love the police. I do it to not exact the consequence.
I guess that is why I think of this passage when I heard about the reading plan. I have contacted the pastor about some of the statements I hear from the pulpit. He puts me off for months. When he finally does talk to me, he promises to pray about it and get back with me. What he does is then send me a letter saying that if I do not have full confidence in his preaching, perhaps I should find another church. He follows that up with a meeting with myself and a couple of elders. No mention is made of my questions, just a meeting to say that we need to get along and start over. I left for a few weeks, but decided that I should not allow this bullying to chase me away from a church. I now attend again, but listen to my i-pod during sermons. Although many have seen this, no one questions anything. (What elephant in the room?)
"If you love me, feed my sheep."
"Yeah, sure, Lord, we like ya."