Anyone else ever get the feeling that Jesus is a little overexposed?
I’m talking about how some of us seem, well obsessed with consuming more and more Jesus. Like he’s going out of style.
Right now, you’re saying, “What? Matt, how can we have too much Jesus? That’s like saying you can have too many ninjas or pirates or sparkly rainbow haired prancing unicorns! It’s a scientific fact that you cannot have too many.”
I’ll admit, I’m like a lot of Americans. I have a bunch of Bibles in the house that spend a good deal of their time as very holy paperweights. I think people literally spend more time going to the bathroom each day then they spend with their Bibles or in prayer. That’s not something I’m proud of, no arguing there.
On the other end you find people who are practically OCD about reading their Bibles, hearing sermons, doing whatever else they need to get their Jesus fix. If Jesus could be somehow liquified and concentrated, these would be the people injecting Jesus directly into their veins three times a day.
So I’m not talking about the obvious. Many of us need to read our Bibles more. I’m asking the other question:
Is it possible to OD on the JC?
Verse by verse
I do not teach the Bible verse by verse in my church. Most pastors don’t. Sometimes, we’ll go through a book. Then we’ll take a break and go topical. I use stories, delve into ancient culture and throw in some Greek when it’s helpful.
But that word “topical” alone is enough to invoke the intense, firey scorn of some people who wouldn’t even call what I do “preaching,” as if my last topical sermon was an eight part series on precious puppies. My Baptist preaching professor insisted we teach verse by verse. Naturally, many people who go to churches where this is done are very proud of the truckload of knowledge they have. (At least I’ve never met one who wasn’t proud.) Their pastors haul out the Greek and spend 45 minutes on a few words in the Bible, (which is also the God ordained minimal amount of time a pastor should preach, according to some people.) The people leave, proud of how they only stick to the “original meaning” of the text with no fluff as they examine the biblical meaning of the word “is.”
Makes the rest of us look pretty weak, like a bunch of illiterate baboons. My teaching looks downright heretical, what with all the “application” and “illustrations” I use. I might as well be Joel Osteen.
I know I’m painting with a broad brush, but I ask, when you break down the Bible into teeny tiny pieces, and you spend more and more time on each piece, are you really sticking with the original intent? Could the author have really intended there to be 45 minutes worth of hidden messages in every little detail they wrote down?
I’ll take thirds on the sermon, please!
You know there are still people who go to church three times a week? Maybe you’re one of them, but I’m not. I don’t think I could handle coming up with three seperate messages each week.
I have to ask, what are people doing with three sermons a week? Or two sermons and a Bible study? Or a sermon, a Bible study, a couple of podcasts, and a new Joyce Meyer book? People treat sermons like fast food. We eat it, then we forget it, and we’re hungry again in a few hours. Why do we eat fast food? Because we don’t want to cook. Do we listen to sermons to justify not reading the Bible for ourselves?
Are our lives so out of control that we need that much preaching? How did those poor illiterate people keep it together without a priest telling them what to do every day? How are we able to absorb the message when we’re encouraged to Twitter the message as it comes at us? You know how Twitter works. A tweet is born, and it dies in about 2 seconds. How do we even give ourselves time to apply anything we’ve learned when the next day, we’re onto the next message, the last one already flitting away in our minds.
We have more access to sermons and Bibles than ever before. They’re a cheap commodity. Has all that convenience made us any better?
You know we’re all a bunch of porky slobs in America, right? We shove food by the bucketful down our gullets without even tasting anything. Have you ever been to Chicago? Wow, there is literally a Dunkin Donuts on every corner, right next to a hot dog stand, on top of a pizza shop, inside a Seven Eleven. My wife’s always asking me to make her biscuits and gravy, which is nothing more than a biscuit topped with a liquid biscuit. Yeah, we’re really healthy.
What’s funny is that even though we have too much food, we’re really malnourished. Well, I guess it’s not “funny.” It’d be better if we ate less and ate better. I think our vast ignorance of the Bible is caused just as much by not reading the Bible as it is by overeating it. We eat it, tweet it, and delete it. We’d all be a lot healthier if we ate a bunch of small meals, rather than eating a few huge pig troughs of food. Maybe it would be healthier to spend our week on one or two Bible stories, rather than gorging ourselves like spiritual piglets.
That’s me. Are you a verse by verse or a topical sort of person? How many sermons, Bible studies and podcasts do you consume in a week? Is more always better when it comes to the Bible, or are we filling ourselves up on empty Bible calories?