Don’t Be Scared To Be Personal With God:
The Need for Personal Bible Study A Holistic Approach
It’s early Monday morning, Gwen is already rushing and she hasn’t even got out of the bed yet. Her feet finally touch the floor. As she sits on the side of the bed to get her bearings, her mind is racing. Gwen has so much to do and with only twenty-four hours, how will she do it all. “I’m already running late!”
Gwen knows that she needs to spend some time in personal bible study. But she rationalizes that she doesn’t have time. She thinks, “I have work to do and besides, I went to church yesterday and I will go to ‘Wednesday Night Bible Study’ anyway.” So, with a quick “Thank you God for the day,” prayer she sprints out of the house and gets started.
Now, the question is, Did Gwen make a conscious decision to neglect personal bible study? Or did she make an unconscious decision to not focus on knowing God relationally? Could Gwen have set herself up to be ignorant and unaccountable to God or is it a perceived lack of its importance?
Well, it could be both. That’s not to say that in some instances it may just be laziness. But, for those of us 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 it, “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 make you stop and really get to know Him intimately.
This is not to say that we don’t love God, because we 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. Knowing God intimately is what really pleased Him.
Similarly, the prodigal son’s brother was a man who loved his Father, but he didn’t know his Father intimately. His focus was on “doing” what he thought the Father wanted; working hard, staying morally pure and keeping his true feelings covered.
His lack of intimacy with the Father was exposed when the “Prodigal Son” returned. The Father welcomed the prodigal back as a son – not a servant.
Using ignorance, lack of time or busyness is not an excuse for not getting to know God personally. This mindset is often hidden in activity. However, not making a priority of getting to know God intimately is dangerous. It separates our lives into different segments.
Trying to please God by working gives the appearance of knowing Him. Knowing God can’t be separated from a person’s work life or any other aspect of life. 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 that focuses on our personal relationship with God is moved out.
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. Unlike the person who works out of ignorance with a misunderstood belief that if “I do good works, I’ll be accepted,” this person integrates all parts of life. This person understands the ability to live purposefully and truly spiritual. It is something that comes from the inside out. It is based on already being accepted by God and living from that perspective; not from trying to be accepted.