Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . .
— Colossians 3:16a
I want to bleed Bible. Don’t you? I want, when somebody cuts me open, my guts to spill out in Bible verses.
We are staring back along the wake of an entire generation of church teaching that treats the Bible likes Bartlett’s Book of Quotations. We swoop down toward the Scriptures quickly and snatch something, anything, that will do for a pick-me-up, a soundbite, a prooftexted inspiration. Jeremiah 29:11. Philippians 4:13. Romans 8:28. These verses and more we have decontextualized into a devastating discipleship deficiency. And then we act shocked when professing Christians who otherwise know some Bible verses do not portray the wisdom of the Word.
We have grown accustomed to baptizing our worldliness, justifying our syncretism with Scripture. Like the children of Israel ascribing their worship of the golden calf to YHWH, we treat others with scorn and contempt, citing Jesus’s being mean that one time, or we engage in moral relativism and pragmatism, excusing it with the Lord’s use of immoral men. What is this except using the Bible without being transformed by it? We can be biblically savvy without being biblically wise.
The Bible is a big book with lots of words. It is meant to be dwelt in, not drizzled or dabbled. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit who has indwelled us that we might be filled with it, drunk with it, oozing from the pores with it.
Whenever the Scriptures hold up measurements of true spirituality, it endorses things like peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. These things cannot be faked. These qualities cannot be cultivated by mere religion. We can whitewash a tomb, but only the implanted Word can grow new life inside. Superficial use of the Word makes superficial people.
Be careful with how you use your Bible, then, to make sure it is actually using you. Consult its whole counsel. Don’t be an adherent of pick-n-choose-ianity. Reject sloganeering and cliche-peddling. Through the deep Word, become a deeper person. The Bible is bigger than your bumper sticker.