“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” is the encouragement we receive in Psalms 34:8. Here and elsewhere, God invites us to Himself. He wants us to know Him directly and to grow in our experience of His goodness.
Many of us have grown in our knowledge of God, our knowledge of His attributes, our knowledge of Him theologically. We would do well on the Bible and God questions on a Trivia Team. We know our Bibles well and know our way around them so that we are free of embarrassment in a small group study, like I experienced as a baby Christian.
In my college small group study, there were a lot of guys who had grown up in the church. They were probably winners in their high school “Sword Drills” on the speed in finding a Bible verse reference. They found it amusing how slow I was and how much I relied on the table of contents to get to the passage being read. And they got a great laugh when I struggled to find Hezekiah 3:16.
But God is not interested in creating unbeatable Trivia Teams. The goal of Bible reading is much more than test knowledge.
Francis Chan in his study Jesus’s Farewell Message likens Bible reading to reading a menu. The menu is not the destination, but the invitation to experience something more. Think of this word picture.
Imagine that I go into a restaurant with a menu that is loaded with appetizing foods and great pictures of the different entrées and sandwiches and specialty burgers. My water with a slice of lemon comes and I sip that while I pour over the menu.
Now imagine that I finally finish going over the menu twice thoroughly, my wife is watching me patiently anticipating my choice, and the waitress asks, “Are you ready to order?” But instead of ordering I said, “No, I am good. This menu was delicious! Those pictures really satisfied my appetite. I don’t need to eat anything.”
“You don’t need to eat anything?!” My wife is stunned. Reading a menu is no substitute for eating, she points out. Wouldn’t you also wonder about me?
But isn’t that what so many of us do when we read our Bibles? We inform our minds but never really satisfy the hunger of our souls by seeking out what God wants us to experience. God wants us to come to the Word hungry for more.
I got to thinking of the word contentment. God encourages us to be content in the midst of negative circumstances. But does He ever tell us to be content with our spiritual experience of Him?
Is there such a thing as Holy Discontentment? An awakening of a craving for more of God, for God to be more glorified in our lives, for doing greater things than Jesus, for experiencing the indwelling of the Spirit more in our lives?
Perhaps this is what is meant by, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied..” Matthew 5:6
Some of the promises on the menu where Jesus invites us into knowing Him more include:
- John 14:12 “ “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in My name, I will do it.”
- John 14:21 “Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by the Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
- Similarly, John 14:23 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come and make our home with him.”
Have you ever tasted these things? Have you ever tasted doing greater works than Jesus did? Have you ever tasted Jesus answering prayer in your life so that He would be glorified? Have you tasted where Jesus manifested Himself to you?
I encourage you to get alone with these words from Jesus. Somehow find some undistracted time to marvel at these things. Don’t normalize these words through our Bible knowledge grid — “Oh, yeah, I knew that.” Jesus wants you to know these things at a whole new level. He wants you to hunger to taste them for yourself and not content yourself to look at the pictures in the menu.
Hungering for more, Christopher