This month’s topic is Word of God and for the past two weeks both the pastors have given us some serious messages on what is the Word all about. I would like to turn the table and focus on “What is our response to the Word?”
Whether I am teaching at SAIACS or running a program for my corporate job, I always emphasise on application. I tell my listeners that we need to apply what we hear and not just be listeners of the Word.
So it is only natural that I study various ways in which people apply the Word of God in their day to day lives.
Here are some examples.
After a Sunday school lesson on Ten Commandments, the Sunday school teacher asked the students, “Now, which of the Ten commandments applies to our relationship with our siblings?” A little girl thought for a few moments and brightly replied “Do not murder”
A pastor was sitting in a flight near an elderly woman. The woman was clutching a Bible, and praying. The woman’s uneasiness grew as the plane started taxiing and increased further as the flight took off. As the plane continued to climb higher, the woman kept getting more nervous and sweat drops were forming on her forehead. The pastor finally decided to intervene and told the woman “Now .. there is nothing to be afraid of, Jesus has said that “I am with you”. The woman quickly shot back. That is not what he said. He said “Low, I am with you”.
A family had the habit of treating their children for ice cream after the church service. One Sunday the father decided to break the habit. The children were not happy about it. They started whining. The father decided use spirituality to deal with the situation. He asked, “where in the bible is it said that we should eat immediately after the service?” The children turned out to be smarter than him, they replied, of course the Bible says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst.. “after all the Righteousness”, for they will be filled”
Closer home, when I want to pick fish over chicken, my argument is that there is evidence of Jesus eating fish, and no evidence of Jesus eating chicken.
I know that we laugh at these examples. But deep inside us, don’t we all agree that this what really happens with us when we read the Bible? We love to read the promises, we love the comforting verses that Bible provides. We love the happy ending stories of Esther and Job. We marvel over the signs, wonders and miracles of Old and New testaments. We love it when the Red sea parts and lets the Israelites pass through dry ground and yet covers the Pharaoh’s army and drowns them. We cheer when David slays Goliath. We enjoy the Wisdom of Solomon in Proverbs. We rejoice when good prevails over evil. And through all this, we keep searching and asking…..
What is in it for me?
In the corporate world, the term What Is In It For Me or the short form WIIFM is very popular. We believe that unless programs address this issue, employees will not be interested in any programs. So when we design programs, be it training programs, employee welfare programs, engagement programs or whatever, we always ask this question, does it have the WIIFM that will attract employees to that program. If we create a strong WIIFM, the chances of success of that program is higher. Else the program fails.
This is a sad part of the world. What is even sadder is that today’s church mirrors the world when it comes to WIIFM. We come to church seeking comfort, seeking fellowship, seeking prayer. We come to church thinking about what we can get from that investment of time. We come to church to be see what promise the Word of God holds for us today. We come to church wanting to be comforted in the current situation. We come to church wanting our spirits to be lifted up through the music and singing. We come to church hoping to be fed by the Word of God. We come to church excited about whom we can meet at the church today. In short we come to church asking the question…..
What Is In It For Me?
The result of this motivation to come to church is that if we do not get a good answer for that question, when we do not see a great WIIFM, we feel disheartened, and we want to change the church. You know about the people who change churches like wardrobe. Their reasoning is simple. They do not see enough WIIFM in the current church (or any church for that matter). They do not find the fellowship to their standards. The music is not lifting them up and giving them a high. The message is not enjoyable enough. One of the most quoted reasons for changing of church is “I am not fed spiritually”. In short many people come to church asking the question……
What Is In It For Me?
But is there anything wrong with coming to church with the above stated objectives? Is it wrong to expect to be comforted by attending the church service? Obviously no!! Right? But what happens when we are overly focussed on what we can get from the Church is that we forget the Word of God in this. We forget the original messenger. We forget the actual message. We forget our duties and responsibilities. We could become obsessed with the question….
What Is In It For Me?
I am an integral part of all that I discussed. I am no different from any of you. I also look for WIIFM in anything that I do. So I decided to ask God the same question. “God, What Is In It For Me in the Word of God?”, and God smiled and said, “Son, I understand your question. But know this. It ALL about you. My Word, the Bible is ALL about you. It is a Covenant of Love from me, the creator of everything, the Alpha and Omega. It is a Covenant of Love that I wrote and executed through Jesus Christ, my only Begotten Son.” He said, “Let me help you understand what this book is all about.” And then it dawned on me….
What Is In It For Me?
Christ!!! That is What Is In It For Me. Let us dig a little deeper into this thought this morning.
The entire Bible is about Christ. Christ is the key to the whole Bible, and it is He who gives it its spiritual and historical unity. Paul confirms this in Colossians 1:16 (MSG) For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.
The whole Bible can be looked at in Seven Parts that reflect Christ (adapted from: Methods of Bible Study by W. H. Griffith-Thomas 1903. W H Griffith – Thomas was an Anglican Pastor and Theologian who lived from 1861 to 1924)
Genesis to Deuteronomy—Revelation.
Joshua to Esther—Preparation.
Job to Song of Solomon—Aspiration.
Isaiah to Malachi—Expectation.
Matthew to John—Manifestation.
Acts to Epistles—Realisation.
So you see; the Gospel story does not start with Christmas. It starts much earlier in Genesis, when God warns the Serpent about what is to come. Genesis 3:15 is the pre-cursor to John 3:16, and then onwards it is the long and painful execution of that Covenant of Love through the lives of imperfect and insufficient lives of men and women whom God chose in the path of executing His covenant. He continued to reiterate His Covenant through Prophets, through Warriors, through Kings, through Macho men, through Beauty Queens, through wicked men, through insignificant people like servants, through poets, through magicians, even through a donkey!!
But we kept on asking the same question: What Is In It For Me?
He tried explicitly clarifying it many times, for example; in Isaiah 43:4 (MSG) , He categorically said. “That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” And then when the time came He sent the Word to become flesh and live among us and die for us on the cross, so that we need not ask that question again. And Jesus during earthly ministry, tried to clarify it many times. He said He came so that we could have abundant life. He said He is going to the Father so that he can prepare a place for us. He said He and the father are one and who has Him has the Father. He gave up His life on the cross demonstrating how much He loved us!! And He rose from dead on the third day, so that we need not be hopeless. He ascended into heaven and He is sitting at the right hand of God interceding for each one of us, because He knows we still keep asking the same question
What Is In It For Me?
My dear brothers and sisters! It is not as if the answer is not there. The answer to that question is all over this book. The question is do we find it and be satisfied or do we continue looking ignoring the BOLD and CAPITAL letters in the written Word of God and continue our futile search somewhere else.
The answer is Jesus Is In It For Me of JIIFM. If this answer does not satisfy us, I don’t know what will. It was DL Moody who said “ Sin will keep you (away) from the Bible or the Bible will Keep you (away) from Sin”. It comes down to a choice we have to make this morning. Or every morning for that matter. Do we continue to ask What Is In It For Me? Or do we accept the fact that Jesus Is In It For Me and that is sufficient.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (MSG) says Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
So what is our response to the Word of God? Do we continue asking the question What Is In It For me? And continue to live our frustrated unsatisfactory life? Or do we accept the answer that the Word provides that Jesus Is In It For Me, and grab that opportunity to get rid of our sins, and live the abundant life that Jesus promises.
The choice is Ours.
Let us Pray!!