Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Take and Eat

Revelation 10:8-11) And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

In the grips of his glorious vision, John was commanded to take, and then eat “the little book”, i.e. God’s inscripturated Word. The Angels did not tell John to merely read the book. He was told to eat it.

By design our weekly worship service is packed with God’s Word, read, sung, prayed and preached. But this is no automatic blessing, for “to whom much is given, much will be required.” It is, in fact, quite possible to merely dabble with God’s self-revelation, to treat it like you would any other book, to merely hear or read it, instead of eating it. Here are three common ways of dabbling with God’s Word:

By turning it into a mere intellectual exercise: Analyzing it. Dissecting it. Criticizing it. And looking for apparent contradictions or inexplicable difficulties

By turning it into a mere moral map, or “how-to” book: How to have a nice life. How to have a happy marriage. How to have well-behaved children. How to manage your finances. How to overcome low self-esteem and other crippling conditions.

By turning into a mere collection of uplifting and inspiring phrases: If you are content to “cherry pick” your way around the Bible, ignoring whole books, chapter and large portions of chapters, this is very possible. There are enough “refrigerator magnet” verses for 3 or 4 refrigerators. And if you’re too uninspired to do that yourself, your local Christian kitsch distributor would be happy to sell you a book of two of “inspiring” verses.

But God said “take the book” and God’s messenger said “eat the book.”
How do you know whether you are dabbling with God’s Word or “eating” it? If you are eating it, then you, like St. John, are being transformed and energized by it.

The food we eat, when it is metabolized by our bodies, either builds up the body with new or repaired tissue, or is used for energy that is expressed in activity. If you are “eating” God’s Word, then Christ’s body (and you in it) is being edified, built-up and strengthened as a result. If you are “eating” God’s Word, and not merely using it (God help you) as a play-thing, then you are activated in deeds of love and mercy in the service of Jesus Christ.

Do not fool yourselves. Take and eat. The question then, is not what will you do with any portion of scripture that is read, sung or preached in your hearing. But rather, what will God’s Word do with you? Christian, take and eat. Do not dabble. Do not truncate the taking in and digesting of God’s Word into a mere intellectual, practical or inspirational exercise. Your Creator and Redeemer purposes to heal, cleanse and transform you by means of His holy Word. So, take and eat.

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