Instructions of incredible importance are always worth listening to. The first time you flew you probably paid careful attention to the flight attendant’s demonstration of safety protocol. Once you’ve become a routine flyer you cease to stop and listen to those instructions, as you already know all that you need to survive a drop in cabin pressure or a crash. Unfortunately for us, that same ‘familiarity breeding contempt’ can become part of our faith if we aren’t careful.
The opening words of the letter to the Hebrews states that “God spoke to our fathers…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (1:1-2). Hebrews calls us to “pay much closer attention to what we have heard (through the Son), lest we drift away” (2:1). A unique feature of Hebrews, in the greater body of New Testament books, is that the author relies heavily upon Old Testament quotations. This reliance was used because it would have been persuasive argumentation to the Jewish Christian readers who held the Scriptures in high regard. Another unique feature is that when quoting the Old Testament the writer of Hebrews seldom acknowledges the human writer of that text. Instead whoever penned Hebrews went to great effort of removing the intermediary and instead emphasized that God spoke those words to the people (see for example 3:7 and 4:4). What can we learn from this? That when God speaks through a human agent we must consciously filter out the vessel and listen earnestly to what God is saying to us. The writer of Hebrews was also a firm believer that God speaks to us for the purpose of transformation, not information. When God speaks, it is meant for life change. So when I read or hear the word of God, am I asking questions such as: “What am I going to do about it?”, or “What does this mean for my life?”, or “what changes must I make because of this?”.
How regularly do we respond or fail to respond to God’s Word? If we really believe that the Bible is the Word of God, would we ever walk away from a Sunday sermon without taking time to wrestle with how God is expecting us to respond to what HE has said. No matter who the preacher is we would be straining to hear God’s voice through his Word. If we are apathetic toward God’s Word when it is preached or when we read it ourselves, that is a good indication that we have a growing problem with sclerosis of the (spiritual) heart! Remember that this was a common chorus in chapters 3 and 4: “do not harden your hearts”. We are to do whatever it takes to proactively ensure we don’t become hard-hearted. The best way to do this is to keep our spiritual ears listening to what God is saying, and responding in obedience.
What if you don’t have a desire to read the Bible? Pray. Pray for that desire. Do you think God will not answer that prayer? He WANTS to talk to you! But don’t wait until the desire comes before you start reading. Start now in faith and keep reading out of obedience.
What if you don’t know how to read or understand the Bible? Ask for help! Confess this to a pastor or trusted friend you know has strong Bible-reading habits. They won’t judge you. Instead, they will be thrilled to help you get started in a life-changing discipline! Read it together with others. Use the wisdom of others; buy a devotional book that has meditational thoughts included. If you’re not a reader, listen to it. May God bless you as you learn to tune into the voice of God.