Spiritually Speaking… Bible Study, Are You Serious?

You know people really react to you differently when you tell them you’re studying the bible; particularly if they know you as someone who has lived a life, shall we say, bible free. I’m not talking about other believers who understand the value of biblical study. I’m talking about people who know you, perhaps those with whom you work, are in the same organizations as you are, or whom you simply socialize with from time to time; maybe even ran the streets with. Their reaction is distinctly different, say, from when you tell them you’re studying a foreign language, returning to school to learn computers or something as innocuous as taking a cooking class or line dancing. When you tell someone you’re in bible study, be prepared. “Prepared for what?” you might ask. For any and everything is the answer.

For the most part, people tend to respond positively to a genuine effort to get closer to God. However, there is almost a universal questioning about whether or not you’re serious. The question of your faith always comes up because most people have a hard time putting you and the Lord in the same thought pattern. It’s inevitable then, that people become a little ‘standoffish’ towards you because in all honesty, they really don’t know where you’re coming from. Some are compelled to remember the sins you committed together. Some just heard rumors about you, but have little proof that the rumors are indeed true. But, for whatever the reasons, they, those who hear directly from you of an honest attempt to walk with the One who ‘brung’ you, have a hard time believing you because they can’t or haven’t made the effort themselves. I believe this because I’ve experienced astonishment, disbelief, skepticism and yes, genuine joy, all because I’ve told someone I’m in bible study.

For me, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that a lot of people I’ve known for a long time have opened up to me in ways that have been truly remarkable. I know things now about them spiritually that I would never have guessed before my admission of being in bible study, or just in church. I can honestly say, as a result, that I hardly knew them at all. Our conversations have changed and subsequently, our relationship has changed; all because I let it be known that I had changed. I’ve got to attribute it to me, because after all is said and done; the change is in me, not them. Somewhere along the line I said something, did something that opened a side of me to others that allowed them to see me, hopefully in a different light. In the resulting conversations, dialogue has gone on for hours. In other cases, it has brought to my attention that some people, rather than question me, question others about me. When that has happened, I’m told, it’s usually brought up in such a way as to question my sincerity or, to be insulting at my audacity to think that I actually could be trying to order my steps to put me on a clear path to God. Like I said earlier, you need to be prepared to hear all kinds of things when you let people know you’re studying the Word. Remember, studying the Word is a bit different than telling people you’re going to church. One is akin to habit, while the other is more like desired learning. Think about it.

I’ve come to understand that from now until the day I die, I need to be in some form of structured bible study. I hope to compliment this with informal reading and conscious personal spiritual investigation. To me, once you get a glimpse of all that is contained in the written Word of God, you must have more. When the effort is genuine, it’s probably okay to assume that people really are reacting to a changed you. Maybe they are seeing you behave differently and to the extent that their comfort or discomfort is a result of the new you, so be it. The good news is, if there was no reaction, there would probably be no real difference that anyone could see in you. So for those of you who have wondered or worried about this, don’t. Keep doing what you’re doing and may God bless and keep you always.

James, jaws@dallasweekly.com