By Johnnie Godwin
Contributing Columnist, B&R
When I was a Bible curriculum editor, an outside guest led us to play “Baldicer” in a work retreat. The leader of the game explained most of the rules and what “Baldicer” stood for. The word itself stands for “Balanced Diet Certificates.” The overall object of the game is to deal with world hunger and how a leader from rich and poor countries might work together in an informal United Nations to feed the world. However, sparse rule explanations left us individual participants and team members in a quandary. We tended to use our given certificates to feed our own country and competed with other countries until our country won and wiped out the other country.
At the conclusion of the “Baldicer” simulation game, we found out that we rich countries had gobbled up the resources from other countries and starved them to death. We ourselves had gotten enough food certificates to get obese. And as we had gloated over defeating another country, we found out we in simulation had starved them to death. Applications are numerous, but I’m talking Bible here.
What kind of biblical nourishment do you get? Pastors claim to believe all 66 books of the Bible. But if they’re honest and look over their preaching records, they may find an imbalance in their preaching that wipes some books out. For example, when did you last hear a sermon from “The Song of Solomon” or “Leviticus”? Spiritually speaking, we have multitudes of malnourished Christians who are biblically misinformed or uninformed. Why? Well, their pastors may see just one tree in the forest or “cherry pick” the books of the Bible and leave us in the dark from the pulpit. What a shame!
There are many menus and ways of going about serving the resources of the whole Bible. Your pastor likely is trained in homiletics and knows the variety of ways to go about planning his preaching for any period: a month, a year, a lifetime of pastoring. He may or may not use the plan that is most effective in giving you a balanced and nourishing menu of the Bible. But there are some essentials to deal with. We’re New Testament churches but need a balance in understanding the majority of the Bible too, which deals with the greater portion being the Old Testament. We may love the Gospels or Paul’s writings or Revelation. But at least every year, a pastor ought to expose us to the Bible as a whole — help us see the forest and not just a few trees in it.
On the other hand, a pastor has to focus to bring the Spirit’s power to you on certain subjects and books of the Bible. If you’ve ever seen a drone take off from a spot like the top of Godwin’s Mountain, you’ll later see it go so high that you see nothing but the forest. When the drone comes back to earth, it focuses on trees and people. Pastors have to deal with this kind of tension. So do we!
Widespread resources for balance in biblical nourishment. The pastor isn’t the only one responsible for a Christian’s balanced knowledge and dealing with the Bible. Churches have Sunday Schools and Bible study programs. Each individual is responsible for studying the Bible for himself and having a devotional life and Bible-reading plan that will help him consume a nourishing and balanced diet of biblical truths.
Some people recommend reading through the whole Bible or some mix of the whole Bible every year. That’s probably good. But such an approach doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a biblically nourished Christian living a powerful Christian life. No one read more of the Bible during Jesus’ days than did the religious leaders. Yet, Jesus exposed the flaws in their Bible reading in John 5:39-40 (HCSB): “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me, and you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.” Spiritually speaking, some people are obese with the quantity of Scriptures they’ve read and consumed; yet, they have not taken in the truths of the Scriptures and gone to Christ as their goal and to the glory of God and His kingdom in their living. Not only quantity but also quality and application of the Bible are essential for balancing biblical nourishment.
“All the books and chapters of the Bible.” A great Bible student named Herbert Lockyer wrote a book he titled, All the Books and Chapters of the Bible. I’ve owned that book since 1967; and — as we would say in West Texas — I’ve used the hound out of it. Besides church, Bible classes, personal Bible study, and my biblical writings, I read a variety of Bible translations. I also always approach a Bible book study with resources like Lockyer’s book.
You can use many resources, but be sure you have a balanced biblical menu and spiritual exercise program that matches what God in Christ calls you to be!
— Copyright 2016 by Johnnie C. Godwin. Write the author: firstname.lastname@example.org