My stomach felt like it was going to explode out of my body. I was sitting in a young adult’s Bible study listening to young adults pontificate on “what this passage means to me” and boy howdy, it meant some pretty weird things.
I had no idea the Bible could mean so many blasphemous things.
I was a quiet young adult. I was a visitor to the Bible study, so I felt intense internal pressure from my shyness to not say anything. At the same time, the blasphemy was flying left and right. We were knee-deep in heresy.
I had a classic Jeremiah experience “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”
Finally, with a bright red face and trembling voice I attempted to set the record straight. I faltered through it, voice barely audible, correcting by pointing to the context around the passage that meant so many things to so many people, and then held my peace.
There was silence and the teacher mumbled some sort of, “Oh, I never saw that” kind of statement. Yeah, no kidding.
Every religious tradition has some sort of physical thing they do that trumps all other behavior and supposedly makes up for shortcomings, “Yeah, we know we’re sinners, but we ____________(Fill in the blank with your church’s traditional penance–communion, baptism, speak in tongues, speak prophecies, rosaries, etc) so it’s OK.”
I have noticed, in the particular evangelical churches I have always attended, that most religious works are shunned–baptism, tongues, etc, but that Bible study was the pinnacle of human existence. If you studied your Bible, God was cool with you.
The problem is that there are few who should be leading a Bible study. Ask James, he’ll tell you. Most Bible study is filled with blather that some person came up with ten minutes before the study was supposed to start and is then opened for discussion so that more blather may blatherate the previous blather.
I have been in many of these Bible studies during my times in various churches, Christian high school, college and seminary. Bible studies are filled with a lot less Bible than people are willing to admit.
I feel as though I should say in many of these groups what Paul said about the church in Corinth, “I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.” It would be better if most stayed home.
Just because you showed up to a Bible study doesn’t mean you studied the Bible. Attending a Bible study does not work off sins, placate God or become a means of grace to the saving of your soul.
Most Bible studies are as empty as traditional forms of meaningless ritual. Don’t treat Bible study like one more hoop you have to jump through to keep God happy. Desire the sincere milk of the Word. Drink it down.
Next time you are studying the Bible, make sure you are studying the Bible.