Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. – James 1:22-25
While many of you may not be aware of my life story, I want to share with you some of my struggles from my childhood to help give you the context on what I’m about to share. Growing up, I was a “drug” child. I was “drug” to church anytime the doors were open. Early on Sunday mornings, against my will, my parents forced me and my brothers (without weapons) to get out of bed to go to Sunday School.
If you didn’t grow up in the south, chances are you are unfamiliar with the term “Sunday School,” so allow me to elaborate. Sunday School was a time before the main worship service began in which you would go into a classroom setting and listen to a leader in the church share a Bible lesson for approximately 30-45 minutes. As a child, attempting to pay attention to a monotone leader teach the same lesson week-by-week was torture. After 30-45 minutes of “weekend school,” it was time for the main worship service. What did that mean to me as a child? One more hour of Bible teaching from a monotone preacher! As if that wasn’t harsh enough, we came back on Sunday Nights for another hour of teaching. To make things even worse, we had to come back on Wednesday’s! Although Wednesday’s were a little more casual, it was typically a different leader sharing their own version of David and Goliath.
Let me summarize my childhood memories of church: I was “drug” to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights.
Each time my brothers and I were “drug” to church, we were taught the Scriptures. At the time, it was brutal. In fact, I despised going to church because it was boring and was just part of the norm in our home. When I left for college at the age of 18 to play baseball at Wingate University, I was free! No longer was I forced to go to church! Now, it was my decision. For the first few weeks of college, I slept in on Sundays. Though the sleeping in was great, I found myself missing church. But what did I miss? Was it the building? Was it the people? Was it the monotone teachers? The monotone preachers? No.
For the first time in my life, I realized that it was God’s Word that I was missing. Those Scriptures that I was forced to memorize as a child came rushing into my mind. The words that were written in the Bible were starting to come to life! I began realizing that God’s Word was truth! It was alive and active! Since truly surrendering my life to Christ at the age of 18, I have faced numerous ups and downs, successes and failures; but one thing remains: God’s Word has never failed.
Today, I have never been more satisfied in Christ. When I read God’s Word, it is no longer about reading it like a novel; instead, it’s about actually living out the words on those pages. As a result, I have:
– Become a genuine follower of Jesus
– Become a better husband
– Become a better friend
– Become a better leader
– Learned to love my enemies
– Learned how to love my neighbors
– Learned how to be more like Jesus
– Learned that my parents were being obedient to God’s Word and for that, I’m eternally grateful! (“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6)
So the question remains:
What would happen if people read the Bible and did what it says?
Don’t wait to see from other people’s experience, find out for yourself. Don’t just listen to God’s Word, do what it says!
– Stuart Richardson