Is God’s Word Powerless?
That was the question I wondered after years of spiritual training. Maybe you’ve wondered the same thing but felt scared to pose the question in a church small group.
I sat through hundreds of chapel services (Monday through Friday), Wednesday night services, two Sunday services, dorm devotions and that’s not counting dozens of Bible-rich classes.
After graduation, I left sad and empty. I was planning further education in ministry but couldn’t get myself to budge. I didn’t even know how to unravel that much information even though it was great stuff.
It was like learning all the great things about your Dad but never getting in touch with him personally. I don’t think experiences like mine are unique.
Years later, I still have questions.
Could it be that the knowledge aspect of our faith has been so over-emphasized that we’ve lost touch with what a true relationship with God looks like?
Especially in developed countries of the world, this seems the case to me. For years, I sat through lecture-hall church services where I struggled to find one deep friendship. If I wrestled so much to relate to others it shouldn’t surprise you that I also struggled to relate to God.
This past year, God gave me two Christian friends. I never had friends like that before. The transparency, love, and depth of those friendships changed my life.
There was a struggle in my soul recently. I admitted to one friend that those relationships had more of an impact on me than decades of church services. I felt guilty, almost sacrilegious for my admission especially as someone who’s pastored.
This friend led me to a quote from Francis Chan that helped turn the light switch on for me. Chan describes a person who is so overweight they can’t leave their beds. They’re always eating but never doing anything. He then equates this to the state of many Christians. He calls them spiritually bed-ridden. Always feeding on more and more knowledge but never applying the knowledge they amass.
Looking back, I wonder if I left my Bible training spiritually bedridden.
Credits completed? Check.
Good grades? Check.
Outwardly respectable? Check.
But spiritually speaking, I had to be pushed off the grounds in a hospital cart with no idea how to do something with what I learned. With little to no understanding of how to relate to the One who enabled my heart to beat.
So, is the word of God powerless?
First, let me pose a different question.
Is food powerless for those bedridden because of obesity?
The same power resides in their food as it does for anyone else. There is tremendous energy and power in that food. But it can’t be realized without action.
In the same way, God’s word is no less powerful for the millions of spiritually bedridden among us. It’s just that the power can never be realized until we stand up, get out and do something with the powerful energy we ingest.
God’s word is fully alive and will always be.
But are we alive? Perhaps that’s a better question.
I’m convinced that over-consumption of Bible knowledge without action is damaging to us. Spiritual knowledge was never meant to be hoarded. It was meant to be shared and lived out.
Spiritual knowledge without action warps our personalities and makes something terrible out of our souls. Our souls become hypocritical and dark.
That’s why there are examples in both the Old and New Testament of nations without faith in God who were considered more virtuous by God than the Israelites.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though, for you or for me.
Keep learning, yes. But get out there and love on people and watch the power of God’s word bust out of the cage!
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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