Recently, I was skipping through religious TV channels and paused to take a sip of tea, just as a man-with-too-big-hair pointed his bejewelled finger at the camera and said;
‘God’s told me that if you, yes YOU, give to us, then within days…. and I mean, DAYS (repeated for extra spiritual emphasis)…He will heal you, He will turn your finances around, He will restore your family relationships…’.
I gawped for a while in horrified awe, hoping against hope that poor and desperate people wouldn’t fall for it.
Lots of people probably did though and I started to think about why.
We’ve all got problems, situations, silent heartaches, things/people and situations we pray for. Hands up if you’ve ever anxiously and feverishly scanned a Bible looking for some small snatch of hope, or prayed prayers of desperation; Help me/Stop me/Make me?
I’ll admit, I’ve done it and in addition, I get 3 or 4 devotions delivered straight to my email each day, along with Bible verse alerts, encouraging Scriptures and inspirational reminders. I’ve also been guilty of skim-reading those devotionals to check if they contain suitable ‘encouragement’ for whatever I’m facing at the time. If not, I’ve discarded them as being ‘not for me’ that day.
Smartphones and social media have transformed how we ‘consume’ our spirituality. In a culture which is all about instant downloads, immediate gratification and ‘what I want’, I’m realising it’s also scarily easy to slip into ‘Me Christianity’; the kind of belief that is focused *just* on me, and what God wants to do/be/give/bestow upon me.
The thing is, God does often speak to me through random things I hear, or read. Somedays, a reminder in a devotional has given me bucket-loads of hope in an otherwise hopeless situation, but that’s because God is kind and gracious and merciful.
But I can also treat devotionals and readings and programmes like some kind of divine horoscope….using them to gauge what’s in my ‘stars’ for today.
I don’t want to be that kind of believer. I want more than that. I think God wants more from me than that.
So, for the next few weeks at least, I’m packing away my devotionals and I’m taking it back to basics. The iPad reminders are off, and I’ve unpacked my paper (yes, gasp, horror) hardback Bible and I’m just going to read it. Not for ‘encouragement’ or ‘strength’ but just because it’s God’s word and I want to read it.
It’s not about ME.
It’s meant to be about Him.