So there I was in the middle of an excruciatingly slow jog this evening, with a light rain pelting my balding head, and me trying to wrestle with my faith. Then it hit me. Dieting is a lot like studying the Bible. You want to control the substance of what you get, not just watch the calorie intake.
If you read the Bible from cover-to-cover in one sitting you would be on calorie over load. Your mind can’t handle it anymore than your body can handle over consumption of any food. What happens to those extra calories? They are excreted from the body and stored as fat. In the same manner, having a lot of knowledge about what is in the Bible is not the same as having the substance of the Bible. If you know that the two greatest commands that God gave in the Old Testament that Jesus quoted were to love God with all that you are and to love your neighbor as yourself, it doesn’t do you any good on its on. You just have Bible fat that is sitting in your cranium between your ears. But if you took those two commands and worked on applying them by being generous with your money to those in need, by applying other commands in your life that God gave us to help us live an abundant life here and now, then you are using the substance of the Bible.
This also works with the questions I have on some difficult passages, or regarding some aspect of the various writings. If I focus on these difficulties more than I focus on substance then I am basically eating something that is of little to no value to my life. Which women were at the cross when Jesus died? at the tomb when he was resurrected? How many angels were there? Where were they – in the tomb, on top of the stone, outside of the tomb? Who did Jesus appear to first? Was Paul seen as an outcast by the church leaders at Jerusalem and since his ministry was to the Gentiles, they didn’t really care, but gave him their blessing to preach to the Gentiles about Jesus as long as they looked after the orphans and widows?
These questions get me no where on either side of the argument for or against Christianity. They are like donuts to my soul. It tastes good while chewing on it, but I can’t do anything productive with it to make the world a better place to live in, and to help others in their times of need. Wasted calories.
So what did I pull from this caloric wisdom? Seek substance. Chew the fat and exercise in the scriptures to show myself approved unto God, a workman who is not ashamed because I am rightly dividing the calories of truth.
A last paragraph challenge: Be generous this week/weekend. Keep your eyes and heart open to those in need around you. See how you can help someone and then do it. Don’t just do it, but give away some good spiritual calories when you do it and see what happens. If you do it, please, please, please post what you did and how it went if you are okay with that. I know the whole “don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing” passage but read through that again in context and check out passages on encouragement for the church body. Your testimony about what happened may be what someone else needed to jump start their “love their neighbor” mindset.