"I don't like Bible reading plans. They feel so legalistic. I feel like I am just reading to check the box."
This sentiment was shared by a classmate of mine back in my Christian university days. If I had been quicker on my feet, I had always wished I'd responded more like this (rather than the stunned silence that was my actual response):
"That's so interesting! I feel the same way. I don't like having three square meals for the same reason. It feels legalistic. And I've stopped sleeping at night, too. It always felt like I was just checking a box."
They don't call that freedom from legalism, they call that anorexia and insomnia. And in the same way, when we rationalize our lack of time in the Bible, we are really just making excuses for spiritual anorexia. Churching it up might make you sound super-spiritual, but all you're really doing is starving yourself of the very things your heart and soul need to function.
What Would Jesus Eat?
Jesus, on the other hand, gives us an entirely different picture of one's relationship with the Word of God. When Jesus was challenged, he responded with Scripture (Mark 12:28-34). When Jesus was tempted, he fought back with Scripture (Luke 4). When he was pierced, he bled Scripture (Matt. 27:46). There can be no doubt that Jesus was a consumer of the Scriptures.
But he didn't stop there. Jesus was not just a consumer of the Word. Taking in the Word was only the first step in Jesus' meal. Consider this:
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work."Jesus feeding on the Scriptures consisted of him both taking in the Word and then working out the Word. He said explicitly his food was "to do the will" of the Father. Jesus didn't just feed on bare information about the will of God. Jesus fed on obedience to the will of God.
(John 4:31-34 ESV)
Avoiding anorexic and obese Christianity
An anorexic Christian (like the friend I mentioned at the beginning) is someone who is starving themselves of the very thing that our spirits need to be healthy and functioning as Christians. An obese Christian, on the other hand, is one who takes in all the Bible "calories" with lots of reading and study, but puts none of it into practice. Both are unhealthy.
So I am not saying you have to start some death-defying "Through The Bible In A Week" reading plan. But this is the beginning of the year. This is a time for resolutions. This is a perfect time to find a rhythm and routine that works for you. Find a plan that gets you a regular meal on the Word in portions that you can digest. And we must follow Jesus' example and not stop with mere consumption. We must carry it through to application.
This isn't about being legalistic. This is about feeding, working, and living.
Feedback: What is your diet of Scripture like? What changes should you make in 2015? What are some practical safeguards in your life that keep you from simply being an "obese Christian", all consumption, no application?