How People Grow
500,000 people interviewed over a 10-year period.
The question was, "What have you seen, over the course of your life, as the best way to grow in your love for God and others?"
*The #1 answer - Reflection on Scripture (More results of the study found here)
Maybe you were hoping for something more sexy, deep, or fresh. Maybe you wanted to hear about a new practice that's revolutionizing the spiritual world. Nope. Just back to the basics of reading and reflecting on Scripture. And I believe it's that second "r" that's been elusive to us; my guess is many of us have "read" Scripture (likely the same passages multiple times), but I wonder how many of us have "reflected" on it. To reflect on Scripture means we sit with it, sometimes for a couple minutes, sometimes for an hour, contemplating, reading again, writing down our thoughts, asking questions like, "What does this reveal about God?" and "What does this reveal about me?" and the more challenging question, "In light of what I just read, what in me needs to be cleansed or changed?"
Why I'm Not Growing in Church
Now that I've been a part of the church for nearly 40 years, 20 of them as a Pastor, I have seen and heard many stories of people being "disgruntled" with the lack of depth in the church. They'll say things to me (or to another Pastor in a nearby city) like, "I'm not growing. This church isn't deep enough. Why don't we teach the Bible?" etc. And while every Pastor, including me, ought to do some reflection upon hearing words such as these, it also often reveals something about the person making the complaint: a lack of time spent reflecting on Scripture. Many of us arrive on Sunday expecting (and needing!) the message to be the "best, most nutritious meal" of the week, when, in fact, those are unrealistic expectations. Yes, the message ought to be well-prepared, Christ-centered and come with some good application, but it cannot be the only meal one eats all week; if you're coming to church "starving" on a regular basis, it's time to pick up a new habit: Reflecting on Scripture.
Rhesa Storms - YouVersion - Bible App
We had the pleasure of having Rhesa speak at both of our locations, and in the message she delivered she mentioned a Bible App that will help you get started. It's called YouVersion and can be found here.
Why is "Reflection on Scripture" so life-altering?
In Matthew 6 Jesus says that "the eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy your whole body will be full of darkness." What Jesus is saying is that our heart is positively or adversely affected by what we see or pay attention to; if we pay attention to God, His word, His life and love, our whole body will be full of light. But if we pay attention to the things of this world (Jesus was specifically speaking about money in this passage) then our body will be filled with darkness. Looking at, reflecting up, paying attention to, Scripture will help bring light and healing to the entirety of our body.
How You Will Grow
There is absolutely nothing you can do that will give you the results you want, guaranteed. Reading Scripture alone will just give you knowledge, but it might turn you in to a legalist. Reflecting on Scripture alone will help you see the changes you need to make, but it won't make the changes for you. Changing your behavior might make you a more attractive person to others, but if it doesn't create a change from within, it's futile. What we need is: God's grace, time spent with Him, a heart cultivated to change, and a group of people to do life with.
Our prayer is that you'll download the App, read and reflect on Scripture, share your life with others by joining a small group, then look back on your life in a few months and see if there has been some change.