I was reading Hebrews today and I was struck by a simple phrase in 5:13 “…not used to the word of righteousness…” or in another translation “…not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness…”
The preacher isn’t talking about new Christians, but baby Christians. There’s a difference, as you may know. A new Christian is someone who recently became a Christian. He or she obviously isn’t going to be acquainted with the word of righteousness right away. That person is living on spiritual milk; finding nourishment in their church, small group, one on one discipleship, etc. That person may or may not spend time in the word on his or her own.
The problem is that what I just used to describe a new Christian is what can be used to describe Christians who gave their life to God many years ago. If a person continues to only find nourishment in their church, small group, one on one discipleship, etc, yet not spending time digging deep in the word, they will never grow beyond being a baby Christian.
The church is part of the problem. We point them to the easiest introduction to the word we can think of: a devotional book like Jesus Calling, or My Utmost for His Highest (my all time favorite devotional), but too often these aren’t treated as supplements to the word, they are treated as our only helping of the word.
You might say, “I love this curriculum we’ve been using”, and there truly are some incredible curricula out there, but here again we face the temptation of substituting the word rather than supplementing it. When we do this, we create Christians who aren’t used to the word of righteousness, but rather samplers of it. The problem with these small samples being our only interaction with the word is that we will feel the need to fill in the blanks with philosophy. This is true whether we realize it or not, because everyone is a philosopher whether they realize it or not. Now, I love philosophy, but when we have the choice to fill in the gaps with philosophy or the word of righteousness, which do we choose? We choose philosophy because we aren’t acquainted with the word of righteousness.
As Christians, we need to facilitate first an acquaintance with the word, and not just through weekly sampling, but through daily interaction. We can’t just interpret it on our own, but our small groups need to be a place where we speak about the word with each other, to help each other to understand it better. There we can experience a full helping, rich in nutrients, of God’s word.
What if the Bible was our curriculum in our small groups? What if the Bible was the starting point for when we talk about life with each other?