Ashamed?

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (Romans 1:16, NIV)

As a kid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was re-released to theaters, but had never been released for video.  I don’t know how many times I got someone to take me to that movie–I pooled my resources and got different members of my family to take me.  My dad and mom took me and took me.  I wanted to memorize every scene, especially since I didn’t have the privilege of watching it later on video.

Did you know that God’s Word used to be treated even better than how I treated my favorite movie?  Many Jews only heard the Old Testament read in the Temple.  They had to listen carefully, because they had no Bible to open when they got home.  Even in New Testament times, there were initially only one of each letter, and then only limited copies, and they would have been treasured.

How far we have come since then.  It is a sad testament of our time when few Christians are even as fervent about the Word (Jesus Christ) as I was about a Disney movie.

We often don’t use direct quotations from the Bible because we think it would “drive unbelievers away” or because we think we can say Scripture better in “our own words”.  Most of us would be less ashamed to give a nonbeliever a devotion book or Christian novel than to give away a Bible.  Few of us can quote more than a handful of Scripture verses, and many of us can’t even quote that many.

Most of us neglect our devotion time, or place it at the bottom of the list “if we have extra time”.  Few of us wake up early or stay up late so we’ll have time (much less extra time) to read God’s Word.  Most of us don’t bring the Bible up in our daily conversations, and if we do, nearly never with an unbeliever.

Many of us hide certain Scripture passages with embarrassment, and most of us are not just less, but far less familiar with the Bible than we are with the sitcom we watch every week that we don’t even care about.

Many of us would proudly call ourselves “obsessed” with Star Trek or Lord of the Rings or Twilight or Desperate Housewives or CSI or baseball or yoga or horses or puppies or low-fat diets or trying new restaurants or iPhone apps or Wii games or jewelry or shoes–and let’s not even discuss the morality or immorality of these obsessions–but stop to think, how many of us would proudly describe ourselves as obsessed with the Bible?  Would that be weird to us?

I don’t talk just to “you out there”.  I talk to myself too.  Soon after I became a believer, I felt God leading me to write for Him.  My intent at that point was to write stories that brought unbelievers to seek Jesus without using the Bible.  I was sure that I could do a better job of telling things than the Bible, that I could tell more moving stories than some of the “dry parts” of the Old Testament, that I could persuade people to come to God by the beauty of my so-called writing gift, that I could think up “rationally-based” arguments that would lead people to God when the Bible wouldn’t.

Several personal devotion times, blogs, and Ken Ham videos later . . I realized this wasn’t working the way I had thought it would.  I was writing passionately, but the problem was What was I standing on?  

I was already beginning to recognize that my “sharpness” in arguing for God without using His Word is about as sharp as a kindergartener’s crayon at the end of the day.  I am dull and I am broken–how did I suppose I could come up with better arguments than an Omniscient God?  Something was seeming worser and worser about this all the time.

The worst irony of my nutcase egotism was that it was as if I had fully forgotten how I came to Christ.

I had been raised in church.  I had gone to Sunday school.  I believed in Jesus, and for a while as a child I wanted to really follow Him.  The problem was, I knew so little about the God I thought I knew so well, that I soon lost my footing.

I’d had deep conversations about Christianity dozens of times.  I had read a catechism and apologetics books as a teenager.  I’d been given Christian novels and devotion books (which I mostly never read).  I’d had wonderful believers in my life who I looked up to and admired.  I’d gone to a Christian college for two years.

I thought I knew God’s Word because I had been surrounded with Christian books, Christian people, Christian lessons, and Christian sermons.  I’d even breezed through an audio book of the whole Bible once for a class–not that I needed to know what the Bible said since I had been “around” it for so long . . or so I thought.  But in all this, in all this, in all this, I had never kept my heart following Christ.  I couldn’t.  I didn’t know what He was teaching me to do.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. (Hebrews 4:12, NLT)

I gave my life to Christ because He awakened me to His Word.

All the efforts we can make–preaching, witnessing, and writing scripts, books, songs, blogs–are important to the point that they lead their audience to love Jesus and therefore read the Word (since Jesus is the Word).  But these efforts are totally worthless if they try to create a “Christianity” not founded on Christ.

Every believer becomes a believer because of Christ (the Word), as Scripture explains:

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:23, NIV)

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