Jesus is enough. At least I say He is. But how often do I come to church or my personal Bible study time with an agenda, as if He really isn’t?
What do I mean by that? Well, lately it seems that whenever I hear a sermon or sit down to read my Bible, I come looking for something other than God. I come into His presence with only one thing on my mind. Application, application, application. How does this verse apply to my life? What are some things from this sermon that I can practically apply to my life? What am I going to get out of this sermon/Bible study? I go to church so often looking for some practical steps for me to fix my life this week. Or I open my Bible looking for some amazing revelation from God that I can then turn into a wonderful blog post to share with all of my friends (yes, I see the irony here). This is something that I really have a hard time with. When I open my Bible, so often I am looking for something more than God. I am looking for some new thing that I need to fix in my life. But so many times I go to church or open my Bible with this agenda but I come out on the other side with nothing (or at least what I would consider nothing). No application. Nothing that seemed relevant to my life right now. I come up empty. I close my Bible feeling like it was a waste because I didn’t write a single word in my journal. In my mind God is silent. And in this silence I become uncomfortable. I get so concerned with myself that I fail to see that God was sitting there the whole time.
Now, before I continue, I want to point out that I am not criticizing the application of Scripture. I am not saying that we shouldn’t apply it or that it doesn’t apply. Application is important. If there is something specific that God is teaching you through a Bible verse or sermon, then go with it. If something sticks out to you as something you need to work on in your life, work on it. If God is using a story or passage to call you to action, then act.
But, sometimes I think that we make practical application the point of Scripture and the point of going to church. We come to church with the expectation that we are going to “get something out of it.” I’ve said that so many times. I open my Bible looking to get something out of it. And I’m not saying that we don’t get something out church or the Bible. But maybe our ideas of what we are going to get are a bit twisted at times. I mean, how many times I have walked out of church saying, “I really didn’t get anything out of the sermon this week,” or “I wasn’t really fed this week, or “nothing really spoke to me.” But what if I was just looking to get the wrong thing? Maybe we need to rethink what it means for the Bible to apply to our lives.
Whenever I write a message for youth group or prepare a small group Bible study the application part is always the hardest for me to figure out but it also feels like the part that is most important to figure out. Whatever passage I am dealing with may have some pretty deep truths about God or the gospel, but I can’t seem to make an application out of it. The point of that passage may simply be showing people who God is. But I often skip right over that in order to make sure that people see that it is relevant. I often have this expectation that with every Bible passage or every sermon there are practical steps that I can take to apply it. If I don’t lay out a practical step by step “this-is-how-to-do-it” application then I worry that my audience will not see how Scripture is relevant to them. Then, they will stop coming to church and stop reading their Bibles.
I think that I get so consumed with the application of Scripture that I forget to be satisfied simply with spending time with or learning about the Author of Scripture. The whole time I’m sitting there desperately, frantically looking for a 3 step how-to something or where in my current situation does this verse make sense, God’s just standing there waiting for me to see that He is the ultimate application. It’s like He’s saying to me, “If you would just stop for one second, you’ll see that the point of this verse or passage is not you, it’s me.”
I have realized that I end up making my Bible study time about me. I idolize myself, thinking that the Bible is about me. I read the Bible hoping to learn about how I can fix my life, instead of looking to spend time with the God that saved my life. I go to church looking to learn about how Scripture can apply to my life instead of learning about the God who gives me life.
Maybe application can be something different from what we usually think. Maybe, the relevancy of the Bible doesn’t depend on us and how we can apply it to ourselves. Maybe instead of coming to Scripture or sitting in church with this attitude of “how does this apply to my life,” we should come with humility, thanking God for allowing this dirty sinner to know Him. Have you ever thought about that? When we go to church we are learning about this holy God, which is something that we don’t deserve. We are sinners and because of that we are not worthy of knowing anything about Him. And yet, He invites us to know Him. We deserve to be separated from Him but instead He allows us to draw near to Him. But instead of being satisfied and humbled by Him, I walk away feeling like I have not been fed because I didn’t have a step by step application.
Instead of looking to learn about myself, why don’t I look to learn about God? Application doesn’t have to be practical steps about my life. An application can simply be a reminder that Jesus is Lord. See, the Bible isn’t about us. It’s not about how you can fix your life. It’s about God. It blows my mind that I am not satisfied with that. I don’t deserve to be able to know anything about God. And yet He comes and gives me the opportunity anyway.
And again, I’m not saying that all practical application is always bad. God does use Scripture or a sermon to convict us or call us to action. But sometimes we get so carried away with that and we end up turning the application into an idol. We fail to realize that Jesus can be the only application that we ever need. We fail to recognize the amazing fact that such a holy God would want to spend time with such dirty people. We get so busy searching for an application for our lives that we miss the opportunity to simply sit in His presence and learn about Him. The Bible is relevant not because we make it so, but simply because He makes it so.