Friday, May 27, 2005

Joy In The Word

Ann at In Christ Alone posted this entry about a room-mate and their time with the Word. As I read her short account I was struck by the situation. Her friend, feeling down came home and asked her to read a Bible story. "What? A Bible story? Ann, are you sure you're not pulling my leg? I'm thinking what really happened was that she came home, complained a bit, or maybe said nothing, sat down and flicked on the TV. If not the TV a CD or perhaps just decided to talk about whatever. Couldn't have been the Bible though." :)

Actually, I fully believe that Ann's account is faithful, and I found it a joy to read. What I wanted to say here was that I think what those two shared that day was what so many more of us should share far more often. I spend quite a bit of time with youth groups and despite the passion a lot of them have for their relationship with God, and all the time they put in by themselves, seeking God in prayer and the Word, the one thing I've noticed lacking is that there is no atmosphere for such things in a group setting. I don't know if it's fear or embarrassment, plain lack of interest or thoughtlessness, but rarely do I ever see friends getting together to share some of the word or pray together. The feeling is almost that if someone suggested such a thing everyone would acknowledge that it's a noble idea but then find a way to just carry on 'relaxing' or 'hanging out'.

Now I have nothing, of course, against 'hanging out'. I love it. However, the truth is that for too many Christians that's all they do, and because of it there lacks an atmosphere of respect and desire for the word of God. Due to this, I see so many who suffer from a lack of knowledge about the Bible either its content or how to handle it. They also suffer from a lack of faith and a lack of confidence in Christian things. In every other activity and endeavour in life - hobbies, sports, relationships, fashion, whatever - we humans bounce things off one another. It's how we learn and how we develop skills and deepen passions. We get together in groups and talk. We share ideas, thoughts, questions. We experiment and we have fun. Not in the things of God however, not with the Bible. We've lost the practise of celebration in faith. We celebrate everything else with one another, but rarely our faith and the Word of God.

This brings me back to something else that occurred to me a while ago. I was in a youth meeting and I had the chance to speak. "If we're honest", I said, "most of us would admit that one of the main reasons - if not the very main reason - we come here on this evening is to be with our friends." I continued, "Upon admitting that though, most of you would begin to feel guilty but what occurs to me is that I don't think that's bad at all. In fact, I think God approves. The reason I think He approves is because I think that's exactly what He does. He comes to be with His friends." Then I turned it round, "The thing is though, we don't even do that well."

If I asked you what the most important parts of your life are, what would you answer? Family? Faith? Does the way you pursue your relationships with your friends reflect that order or are they misrepresented?

A word to you who are more intellectual though. Such activity doesn't always have to be a debate or involved some deep writings that you've been pouring over. Often that seems to inaccessible to people, out of their reach. A simple reading of Scripture, a sharing of favourite passages, having a laugh over stories, dropping anecdotes and letting the Word of God, to quote Professor Keating in the movie The Dead Poets Society, "drip from our tongues like honey".

If only more of us would get together with our friends an on occasion (and more and more frequently) just read a story from the Bible. Share some thoughts, ponder some questions, I am convinced our spiritual life and faith would grow in leaps and bounds and our confidence would become strong. What we need to foster in our groups and among our friends is a true atmosphere of fellowship and of respect for, and joy in, the Word and God.