...like real junk food, superficial studies sabotage a healthy spiritual appetite and create cravings for teaching that appeals to our feelings or preferences. These are not studies so much as “study-like inspirational musings”. Yes, palatable para-studies seem right, but the end thereof is theology-starved spiritual flabbiness. ~Jen WilkenAbout a couple of years ago I discovered this really awesome, magical place called... drum roll please... Whole Foods. Everything there is organic, tastes amazing, and just looks sophisticated. I could die happy living off their olive bar, which is conveniently placed next to the chocolate and cheese section. Mind you, chocolate from Whole Foods is healthy chocolate. And noooo... that's not up for debate.
Whole Foods in my city tends to attract certain people: health nuts (paleo being the latest trend), crunchy moms (Google at your own risk) planning their weekly menus, and city dwellers who do so simply because they can afford it. Oh, and strange college chicks such as myself who come in to simply stare at everything because who are we kidding, we simply cannot afford this place on top of our loans. That's why God gave us Trader Joe's.
It doesn't take a genius though to figure out that the person who eats a clean diet is far healthier than the person who eats fast food frequently. Which one has the more robust, strong well being? French fries are yummy and quick to grab, but they're also providing little to no nutritional value or long-lasting energy for your body.
Living in the mid-west brings icy-cold, bitter winters with it. Starting in December and through March it's just totally overcast and grey nearly every day. It keeps us all inside for the most part. Now, some of you may be aware that I enjoy cooking, and one of my favorite things to make during the winter is black bean, sweet potato chilli. Let me tell you though, this chilli is a whole lot of work to prep. But it tastes so incredibly good; the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, not to mention that it's also incredibly healthy, loaded with nutrients. Ladle it into bowls with some bread that's toasted in the oven, and you'll be one happy camper while the blizzard continues in your backyard.
"...It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” ~Matthew 4:4When it comes to studying scripture many of us need to alter our (spiritual) diet, how we're taking in God's Word. Just as our body feasts of food, so our soul needs to feast on the God's Word. Too many Christians treat Bible study like picking up dinner at the drive-through, rather than coming home taking the time to make a meal, which they then sit at the table with their loved ones and savor, not just the meal, but the company as well. Which translates to this: Too many Christians are relying on devotions, topical studies, and christian living books for their primary spiritual nourishment, rather than the actual Bible. It's why so many of us are still unsatisfied.
I'm not saying that we should pitch the devotionals or the books. I am saying that the majority, the most important nutrients that nourish us spiritually should be coming from our own personal study of scripture. Once you taste the reward that comes in your own personal study, I promise, you're going to find what you uncover and learn to be far more rewarding and satisfactory then what Beth Moore shared with you. (And I LOVE Beth's studies, so don't think I'm dissing her here.) Jen Wilken says it well: "Treat yourself to a topical study for dessert after you’ve had a healthy meal... [in the Word]" (emphasis mine). So enjoy dessert from time to time, but don't live off of brownies. You'll eventually get sick.
I understand why I do this, and maybe why you do to: Part of it is I want fast and easy, something that I don't have to take a whole lot of time with or put much effort into. But fast and easy isn't healthy, it's usually just empty calories for the most part. But I think we also feel ill-equipped to sit down, just us alone, with our Bibles, notepad, and pen, and begin to go really in depth into a given passage of scripture. To dive deep in. Which is what this series will hopefully help a little bit with the further we go.
- Jen Wilken lists some great questions to ask ourselves in decoding the "nutritional value" of our Bible studies: Partially Hydrogenated Bible Study