It was one of those really neat times where I was on the same wavelength as my pastor. He was speaking on studying the Bible, using a number of passages to support the steps he was giving. As he was teaching, he made the statement “you can’t microwave the Bible.” What did he mean? That we shouldn’t put our Bibles in the microwave? I thought that much was a given. I know times are tough and the economy is pretty bad, but I didn’t think we were to the point of literally consuming the Word of God. No, he wasn’t teaching us to avoid putting our Bibles in the microwave (that is a given); he was referring more to a mindset that we have obtained over the years– the microwave mindset. It’s the mindset that says, “I don’t have time to wait. I want it and I want it now!” As Bro. Gene rightly noted, that kind of thing may work on a frozen dinner but it does not work when coming to the Word of God. I’m afraid that has often been my mindset in studying God’s Word. Perhaps you’ve been there too. I’ll try to illustrate:
You got up a little later than you should have and rushed to get a shower and get ready. You run into the kitchen, grab the cereal, open the fridge to find the milk has all been used and “forcefully shut” (because you wouldn’t slam it) the door to the fridge. (At this point you are wanting to yell at someone for using all of the milk, but you really don’t even have time to do that). You get your coffee (Gevalia with Amoretto of course) to wash down the dry cereal that is sticking to your esophagus and go put your shoes on. You snatch up your Bible, flip to where you have been reading and breeze through a chapter, say a quick prayer, and start out on what you have to do that day. As the day progresses, you don’t feel the joy in God that you know you should. You seem quickly frustrated and your resistance to temptation isn’t very strong. When you finally come to the end of the day, you somewhat angrily ask God why He hasn’t been there for you that day. You read your Bible and even asked God to draw you near to Him during the day, yet you just didn’t seem all that close to Him at all.
Sound somewhat familiar? If you’re like me, those days have come and gone and have truly been miserable. The reason? I didn’t give God the time of day much less the time He deserves. I treated His Word like that chore I didn’t want to do when I was little– dusting. Instead of moving all of the decorations and lamps and papers off the counters I would quickly wipe around them, not really caring that the counter was clean or not. The same is true in Bible reading; a quick skim over a passage and a short prayer (lasting a total of 5 minutes tops) reveals that we do not truly desire to know God.
This kind of mindset is at the heart of legalism. It desires to do the deed or chore, to be moral, without pursuing God Himself. The spiritual disciplines become ends in themselves rather than means to further pursuing and enjoying and knowing God. The end goal is to ease the conscience, to appear holy, to be knowledgeable before others, and perhaps a million other things except knowing God, the real reason for studying His Word.
One passage that Bro. Gene referenced, and that God used to grip my heart, is Psalm 119:9-11, which says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Do you see the connection between the psalmist’s study of the Word and his relationship with God? He is not reading the Word to appear spiritual or to do his spiritual duties of the day. He studies and memorizes and meditates as a means of seeking God. God is the ultimately goal in mind. God is the reason He studies.
Having this God-centered motivation radically changes the way we come to God’s Word. No longer are we concerned about just reading through a schedule or memorizing a certain amount of verses. Our main concern is intimately knowing our God. When this is the goal we will find this microwave mindset very unappealing. I’ll end with one last illustration.
If you don’t know, I have by God’s grace (and I mean grace!) been honored to be a best friend and boyfriend to a wonderful, beautiful, smart, fun, loving young lady (when the opportunity to compliment is there, take it) for quite some time now. Over the past few years we have grown to know each other quite well (Fireproof reference: though I haven’t achieved a diploma much less a bachelor’s degree yet; I am pursuing it though!). I have learned some of her fears, likes, dislikes, joys, and she has learned many of mine. In fact, we tease each other about how we have “rubbed off” on each other in some ways. In other words, I not only know facts about Casey but in some ways I have begun seeing things the way she sees them and thinking about them the way she does. For example, I used to view sushi as the most disgusting food ever (until I started watching Bizzare Foods…), but now Casey is slowly but surely teaching me to enjoy it. It’s a work in progress for sure. However, this knowing her did not come from short, half-hearted times spent together. Now imagine if my motivation for spending time with her was being the best boyfriend possible. I want to do for her, buy for her, and all the other things boyfriends are supposed to do, however, I really don’t care to know her. Instead I am pridefully motivated to be the best boyfriend a girl could ask for. Our relationship would look really interesting wouldn’t it? Sort of like a Hallmark movie in which the business man or lawyer (not sure why it’s always a business man or lawyer) wins over his fiancé with buying her what she wants and using smooth words then is stunned when she tells him her desire to be a nurse or her unwillingness to move to New York with him. He didn’t really know her or care to know her.
The same thing must apply to our relationship with God. Our motivation must be to know Him, to be intimate with and close to Him. As our motives are corrected we will find spending much time in His Word to be a delight. Rather than having the microwave mindset we will be more drawn to a slow-cooker mindset — let it sit, ponder over every aspect of it, be drawn to the aroma, feed on the tender mercies of our Lord.