From Tim Kimmel over at the Desiring God blog:
With tweets, blog posts, predigested podcasts, and fingertip access each week to downloads of some of the most engaging Bible teachers in the world, it’s tempting to develop an on-going input of the Bible at the hands of others that overshadows, or even eclipses, input from personal time spent pouring over it on our own.
The drive-by options we have to phenomenal biblical insights can easily meet our need for spiritual satisfaction. Forget the possibility that much of it may be the equivalent of spiritual junk food — great insights and observations that feel good being consumed but can’t possibly provide a well-balanced biblical diet. Throw in some white noise from our preferred theological hot buttons, and the evangelical celebrity status of our favorite Bible teachers, and we shouldn’t be surprised that our primary connection to God becomes one or more steps removed from God himself.
What’s the solution? Kimmel offers these thoughts:
Our limitless access to prepackaged devotional, inspirational, and theological insights from others can unwittingly give us a BSL — Bible as a Second Language — orientation on God. But intimacy with him is better reached via a firsthand relationship through his word than through someone else’s translation of it on our behalf. There’s a place for both — God has given us teachers (Ephesians 4:11). We simply must be careful becoming so co-dependent on the one that we fail to do due diligence with the other.
I would not venture to legalistically propose what this personal arrangement should look like or how often it should be practiced. But I am claiming here that our relationship with God is always better served when it’s primarily gained by our personal interaction with him through his word than impersonally through the second-hand offerings of his word by others — regardless of how wonderful they may be.
The impact of the gospel in our hearts and its grace-covered application in our lives will always be easier to enjoy when we resist the temptation to keep the Bible as our second language and instead insist on turning it into our native tongue.
I know I’m guilty of “BSL” so often. To me, it feels so much easier to follow the blogs of Christian pastors and theologians I respect. Or to occasionally listen to or watch a part of a sermon by one of my favorite online pastors and call it good. I think that most of us struggle with this. But I think Kimmel is right: “our relationship with God is always better served when it’s primarily gained by our personal interaction with him through his word.” How do we help each other make the Bible our native tongue? One way I know is the following. Reader of my blog: please read your Bible more than you read my blog. Always.
HT: Tim Challies