Jesus tells a tale of two home builders at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. A wise builder constructs his house on a foundation of stone while the foolish contractor builds his on sand. The homes are indistinguishable until the storms come and you know what happened. The house built on sand is washed out to sea, but the home built on the rock survives the hurricane. It’s a poignant story that resonates here in coastal New England and it is told to instruct us in the proper use of Jesus’ teaching. The wise builder is the one who hears the words of Jesus and puts them into practice. The foolish man is one who hears, but fails to obey them. You can’t tell the difference until the hurricane blows ashore.
It’s devastatingly simple: we are supposed to read the Bible, listen to what is says and put it into practice. That is the key to building a faith that can stand through life’s tragedies and endure until the end. The problem is we don’t do it. We prefer the soft sand. We may know the material of the Bible, but we fail to practice it. Consequently we learn more about Jesus, yet make little progress in becoming like Him.
I’ve noticed this with my own Bible reading and there’s been a gnawing feeling this past year that there has been something missing in my approach. I’ve learned a lot, but I’ve largely been reading for information rather than transformation. Ironically, I was sent by my church down to Honduras as part of a team to instruct a young church startup how to incorporate regular Bible reading in their church. Literacy is a problem in the remote Indian villages we were working in, so we gave away audio Bibles so that groups of believers with limited reading skills could gather daily, hear the word and discuss it. We only had a couple days with this church, so we needed simple instructions that could be learned quickly and passed on to others and fortunately we found an approach on our flight down (for those who are interested we found this reading method in a book entitled T4T: A Discipleship Revolution and made some adjustments to it). Here is what we shared with them …
After reading (or listening to the chapter) ask the following questions:
- What is the passage saying? (Listen)
- What is God asking me to do? (Obey) But when it comes to obedience, we can’t stop here. If we are honest, we know that it is impossible to perfectly obey God’ commands and we will always encounter a law we can’t keep. So we add two more steps to obedience: (Repent) How have I failed to do what God is asking me to do? Confess that God and ask for his forgiveness. (Believe) What would I have to believe about God or which of His promises would I need to trust in order to obey what I’ve read?
- Who can I can share this with? (Share)
This is the kind of Bible reading rock foundations are made of: You not only read to understand, you read to hear, trust and obey the voice of God. If we spend money to teach it overseas, why not practice it ourselves?
If you are interested in trying this Bible reading approach here are some resources that can help you get started: