This morning I witnessed something very interesting. My father, who is also the pastor of my church, read the letter to the Colossians. That’s it. He said a few words before and a few words after, but the whole of the message was the simple reading of the letter.
As I watched the reactions of the various people, I noticed that many followed along for a few verses. Most, however, simply began to listen to the reading. I think many were surprised by the fact that nothing was added to the actual reading. There was no commentary, no explanation, no illustrations, or applications. The Word spoke for itself.
I have become an advocate of reading the Bible the way it was written. Instead of trying to study what other people have said, I have taught people to read the Word of God and engage it as if it were a conversation. A dialogue with God, using the words on the page to serve as the other side of the exchange.
I think the funniest reaction occurred when, after our early service, I walked out and asked some of those attending, “Is the scripture not enough?” Most of the people laughed at the thought, but I have to wonder if there is something to this. Have we trained our members to rely on the pastors preaching to sustain them? Have we, somehow, drawn people away from God and his Word by not teaching them how to engage and interact with the scriptures?
I guess the question that I have to ask myself is this: Have we become so accustomed to the extra words of the preacher that we are not satisfied with the Words of God? There is no doubt that people are become far more biblically illiterate. Many who come and sit in churches each week do not see the Bible as something they can handle on their own.
I think about the privilege we are afforded to have access to the scriptures in our own language. I think of the many who sacrificed over the centuries to make this opportunity possible.
This morning I was given a real life example. We all must remember that God’s word is the only thing we have to sustain and instruct us on this journey of faith. It really must be enough.