Sunday, October 6th, we are going to begin our new church-wide Bible reading plan. This is a yearlong, cover-to-cover reading plan - Genesis to Revelation. If you do not have a copy of the plan yet, you can access it on our website, or pick it up in the church foyer. The week's reading will also be printed in our worship bulletin every week.
Why should you and your family participate?
That's a good question, and I believe that it has many good answers. But let me just give you one.
I think you should participate in this Bible reading plan because it will help build true Christ-centered community in our church.
Most Southern Baptist churches are really good at socializing, but not so good at biblical community. We love to gather and share small talk and fellowship meals together, but we rarely take our relationships to a deeper spiritual level. We rarely spend real time confessing our sins to each other, rebuking each other, encouraging each other, praying for each other, and teaching each other.
One way that I see myself and others settle for socializing is by gathering into groups with other individuals that I naturally fit with. I "fit" with people who are like me. People that are going through the same stage of life as me and my family or that have the same hobbies or interests or history as me. People who make about the same amount of money as me. Those relationships are easy because we usually have something to talk about, and we can relate to each other.
"Guess what my toddler did this week..."
"Which heart doctor are you using nowadays?..."
"Did you catch the game last night?..."
"That reminds of that coach we had in high school. Remember that time he...?..."
This kind of relationship falls short of the biblical picture of the church.
I am not saying that those relationships are bad. They are good. God is so generous to give us brothers and sisters who are going through what we are going through and can help us.
But from the beginning, the church has been a group of men and women who had nothing in common on the surface. Just think about Acts 2. Men and women. Uneducated fishermen and Jewish religious leaders. Rich and poor. All worshiping and communing together as family.
Later, the church is depicted as the body of Christ (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4) and the family of God (1 John 3:1). Both of those images tell us that the church is made up of radically different individuals who come together to form a united whole.
And if my relationships in the church are only with those who are like me, who "fit", then our church will never match the biblical model. We are supposed to be a family of people from different walks of life, ages, and backgrounds. Football fans and football haters. High school drop outs and doctors. Hunters and vegans. All living together as brothers and sisters. Different body parts building each other up.
If that is us, then what will bond us together? What can all of these different types of people have to talk about week in and week out?
The only thing that every Christian has in common is Jesus. We meet together every week to worship Him and to grow into His image.
What can a 3rd grade Christian and a 93-year-old Christian talk about? Jesus.
What can a Christian who is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company talk about with a Christian who is a single mother living paycheck to paycheck? Jesus.
He is the bond that we all share!
And where do we learn about him? The Bible!
Imagine if every member of our church was reading the same passages every week. What if you could assume, no matter how different another member is, that they had read what you had read this week? You know as a Christian that you care more about that reading than anything else in your life. Who God is is more important to you than what the weather is going to do this week, right? That's what you really want to talk about.
So what if you knew, after some small talk, that you could ask them what they thought about that reading? What if you had a natural platform in every conversation for sharing what God is doing in your heart every day? And what if they could speak into that?
What if relationships could form between different generations in our church around God's Word? If our youth were learning from the wisdom of our senior citizens and our senior citizens were being set on fire by the passion of our youth?
God can use His Word to do this and so much more. He can strengthen the bonds between us to unite us for His glory.
Considering all of this, I am pleading with you to please consider the reading plan this year. If you are reading this after we have begun, it is not too late! Pick up where we are or get caught up. God's Word is alive. And we need it to be the people He has called us to be.