I was reading the book of Nehemiah yesterday and one verse just jumped off the page and slapped me (not literally!) To put the verse into its context, God’s people had just finished rebuilding the ruined walls of Jerusalem in mind-bogglingly quick time (52 days). This is what happened next:
“And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel.” (Nehemiah 8v1)
Let me explain why this hit me so hard.
I recently attended a conference in Wales in which not one of the speakers even carried a Bible onto the platform, let alone read from one. The few biblical references that were made were more like the retelling of a storybook narrative than the prophetic proclamation of the very words of God. Session after session the opportunity to open the Word and hear what God had to say was neglected in favour of pithy sound-bites, pearls of wisdom and formulas for success. I found the whole thing very distressing.
We encountered a very similar theme at our Ignite events last year. Almost every ‘big name’ speaker we invited to come and speak to the hundreds of our Ignite youth opted to leave the Bible behind and settle instead for story-telling and fluffy analogies. Suffice to say this year we’re doing the bulk of the teaching oursleves! We might not be Christian superstars but we all share the same convivtion that God’s Word is timeless, powerful and says things better than we ever could!
So what the Dickens is going on? Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for cultural relevance in gospel communication, but not at the expense of the Bible. Without the Bible there is no gospel! Furthermore, if faith truly does come through hearing the Word (Romans 10v17) then no Bible equals no faith! And without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11v6).
So if we really want to be Chritians who give pleasure to God and life-giving faith to our communities, we need to be Christians who are all about the Book. We need to be committed to churches where the bloke in the pulpit, like Ezra, will faithfully and uncompromisingly bring the Book every week!
May God stir up a passion and a hunger for His mighty Word once again in Wales.