Getting Personal With God: The Need for a Holistic Approach to Personal Bible Study
You’re awake early Monday morning and you’re already rushing. Your feet finally touch the floor as you sit on the side of the bed. All you want to do right now is to get your bearings. Your mind is already racing with all the things that you have to do. You wonder to yourself, “How am I already running late?”
“Ah, personal time to spend in bible study.” But, you rationalize that you just don’t have time. You have work to do. You went to church yesterday and will go to “Wednesday Night Bible Study” anyway you rationalize. So, with a quick prayer and a “Thank you God for the day,” you get started.
Why do we put off personal bible study and dive into the challenges and issues of the day? Is the general lack of personal bible study a conscious decision of not seeing it as really important or is it not wanting to know God personally and be accountable to him?
Well, it could be both. And that is not to say that in some instances it may just be laziness. But, for those who have a slight understanding of the holiness, awesomeness and power of God, there may be the subtle, subconscious fear that hinges on, “What I don’t know I’m not responsible for.” Or as Charles Swindoll in one of his books termed, “I just want a penny’s worth of God.” You may find that you only want enough of God to get you through the day and to help give you a sense of fulfilling your purpose. But, you don’t want enough to stop and really get to know Him. And this is not to say that you don’t love God, because you honestly do.
Martha, had that problem. She loved God and yet Jesus had to scold her for not taking time to sit and be with Him. She was practical and wanted to be about the Master’s work and doing what would please Him. Unfortunately, her unbalanced focus on works proved that, in all that she did, she really didn’t know God intimately and what it was that really pleased Him.
Similarly, the prodigal son’s brother was a man who loved his Father, but didn’t know his Father intimately. His focus was on “doing” what he thought the Father wanted; working hard, staying morally pure and keeping true feelings covered. But, his lack of intimacy with the Father was exposed when the prodigal son returned and the Father welcomed him back as a son – not a servant.
Understanding the fact that being ignorant is not an excuse to getting to know God personally and this mindset is often hidden in works. However, not understanding the importance of getting to know God personally and intimately is also dangerous to a person’s life.
While trying to please God by working gives a semblance of knowing or at least trying to know God. Knowing God can’t be separated from a person’s work life or any other aspect of life, because, as Jesus said, “… apart from Me you can’t do anything.” and Paul stated, “… in [God] you live, move and have your being…” What generally happens is that other things come in and time for personal bible study, with a focus on relating to a relational and personal God is moved out. And this demonstrates a separation of the different aspects of a person’s life.
The holistic nature of life is changed into different pockets of activities. This leads to a hierarchy of what is important and how elements of life are budgeted into a person’s time. Not realizing that knowing God is not a separate, “spiritual activity”, but is to be nothing less than the importance of breathing air or drinking enough water to continue to live.
Unless a person has a respiratory problem, the thought of breathing is just a natural part of life. It’s not something that must be scheduled into a person’s budget. It is just done as a natural part of living a “normal” life. But, if something happens to cause breathing problems, then the act of breathing takes on a higher level of importance. It takes on a higher level of importance, because, now your ability to function and live is being hindered.
Likewise, it’s known that if a person doesn’t drink enough water, systems in the body start compensating and eventually starts shutting down. So, people drink water and other fluids as a matter of everyday life. It’s just something that we do. We don’t necessarily schedule time to drink water. We just get it. And unless an illness or activity, such as engaging in sports, outwardly let’s a person know that their water supply needs to be replenished, we don’t really think about its importance.
And, that is the way our time with God should be. Our mindset needs to be such that engaging in personal bible study is not to be something we do when there is a problem or an external need arises. Our personal bible study should be one in which we naturally spend intimate time with God as a natural course of living life – not a separate part of our life. Being intimate with God, allows a person to live a holistic lifestyle, because the spiritual is mixed with and controls the natural in a practical way.
By living intimately with God, we’re able to live mindfully and know what we need to do and how we need to do it, without judgment and prejudice. And for that matter, whether we should be doing anything at that time at all.This person understands the ability to live purposefully and truly spiritual is something that comes from the inside out. It is based on already being accepted by God and living from that perspective. This person integrates Bible Study into all parts of life with the purpose of knowing God more intimately.. ; not from trying to be accepted.
Unlike the person who works out of ignorance or a misunderstood belief that if “I work hard or study hard, I’ll be accepted,” And, the person who believes that, “I don’t have time to get into the word except on Sundays,” is missing out on growing deeper into their knowledge of God's word and their closeness to Him.
We shouldn't be aware of getting personal with God. Study His word and ask Him questions. Let God teach you, one on one, in the closeness of His presence and glory.