You see them on the news. You see them on the street. You see them at gas pumps and grocery stores. The question of the day seems to be, “Got a mask?” Coronavirus has caused the mundane mask to be downright coveted. Why? Because a mask can stand between you and the invisible enemy – COVID-19. The right mask can filter out impurities that can harm you. There’s a surge in demand for masks because it is what people are turning to for hope to stay healthy.
Ironically, there’s also a surge in demand for another device that can “filter out harmful impurities” in our lives – the Bible. According to the folks at YouVersion, an online Bible app, “All over the world, people are searching for answers and hope. And what millions are finding is an invitation into a relationship with God.” YouVersion says that they’ve recently seen God moving in amazing ways with the largest engagement increase ever. More people are searching the Bible for hope and peace, sharing Bible verses and Verse Images with others, and engaging in God’s Word with their families. This new Bible hunger is a great thing. However, the beauty of the Bible is not just in its words (although they are life-changing), but that it draws us close to its Author, God.
Unfortunately, between watching all our podcasts and checking Tweets or Instagram, most people don’t spend much time pondering the purity, perfection and holiness of God. Few people understand that each one of us is actually created by God to be holy, to reflect God’s holiness – His complete wholeness – wherever we live. It’s hard to reflect holiness or wholeness when we’re sick, and many of us are walking around spiritually sick. We try to remedy our dysfunctional symptoms or numb our pain by binging on TV reruns, social media, food, alcohol, sex, pornography, marijuana, busyness or another drug du jour. What we’re really doing is just trying to cope with, not filter out, harmful impurities.
So how can the Bible help us filter out harmful impurities? We’ve got to read it, come to know its Author (God) personally, and then try to live it. Now, before you say that the Bible is an old-fashioned, irrelevant book, consider this. Most people who claim that the Bible is irrelevant, haven’t read the Bible. It has a lot to say about the aforementioned list, as well as what to add into our lives to experience the unique and abundant life God has written for each of us.
About binging on TV, social media, pornography… “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” or another translation, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” (Psalm 101:3)
About binging on alcohol or drugs… “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…” or another version “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18)
About binging on food… “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)
About living the rat race and packing our calendars to make ourselves stay sane or feel important… “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Is anger an issue? “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)
Are you a worrier, with high blood-pressure or other ailments stemming from anxiety? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
The Bible also speaks to friendships, marriages, work, priorities and …well, you get the idea. The Bible is relevant and it makes a great filter for the impurities of the world, the impurities in our lives that seek to rob our spiritual, emotional, and physical health. But much like a mask, the Bible only has a purifying, protecting effect if we use it, if we cover ourselves with it. A year ago, I didn’t even know I needed a mask. Today, everybody is telling me to wear a mask from my Mom to my Governor to the CDC, but not everyone is jumping up and down shouting, “Read your Bible!” So let me be that person for you. Don’t think of me as the CDC, but more like your Mom — the one who always told you to brush your teeth and eat your veggies because she cares about you and wants the very best for you.
I care about you and want the very best for you. (You are made in God’s image, in case you missed that in a past blog. You are pretty special and deserve to be cared about!) So get a Bible or download a Bible app. Read it. Listen to it. Live it. Get to know the One who wrote it, who loves you more than anyone in the universe, by the way. (And never equate life being hard with God not loving you. If you follow Jesus, He loves you whether life is easy or hard; He doesn’t change, but He can change you and grow you by walking through the hard times with you.) The medical experts tell us that we’ll have to wear masks until we come up with treatments and vaccines for COVID-19; until then we need to keep applying our masks to filter out the impurities that make us sick. The human race has been “sin sick” since the garden and the only vaccine for that illness is to know the Jesus of the Bible personally and to repeatedly apply His Words to our hearts and minds in order to filter out the harmful impurities of the world. Are you wondering how to make positive changes in this negative time? In the words of the Bible, “be transformed (from spiritual sickness to health – my embellishment) by the renewing of your mind.”
Do you want to read the Bible, but don’t know where to start? Find the book of John, the fourth gospel, in the middle of the Bible (or just sort through the book names in your Bible app). If you take even a tiny step toward God, He will meet you there. Check out this promise from the Bible – Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.