Updated: Sep 29, 2020
Lately I’ve been taking a new approach to reading through Scripture. Over the summer I began listening to a podcast called, “Paying Ridiculous Attention to Jesus,” hosted by Rick Lawrence and formerly with Becky Hodges. Utilizing their approach has revved up my spiritual life, and revamped my relationship with Jesus. (I highly encourage you to listen!) Much of the focus from the podcast is on Jesus and his heart. That sounds perfectly normal for a Christian podcast, but the approach is actually quite different than what I’ve encountered in any church setting. At church and in most Bible studies that I’ve experienced, the focus is greatly on Biblical application. The pastor or teacher covers a story from the Bible and then gives his/her take on how this applies to us and how we should live. And boy, is this valuable. We need so much help in our lives, and applying Biblical lessons is important. We can learn from others’ triumphs and their mistakes along with how to apply many of Jesus’ teachings in parables. But in this podcast they have taught me that when it comes to smaller scale levels of Biblical study, that is, my own studying and in my small group, application shouldn’t necessarily be put on such a high pedestal.
In episode 23 from the third season of the podcast, Rick quoted a friend of his, Ned Erikson (sp). He said, “Get to know Jesus well because the more you know him, the more you’ll love him. And the more you love him, the more you’ll want to follow him. And the more you follow him, the more you’ll become like him. And the more you become like him, the more you become yourself.”
Get to know Jesus
Become like Jesus
The idea here is that if you approach the Bible with a focus of getting to know Jesus, it will take you down the road to having a relationship with him. I know for me, I used to see reading the Bible as a chore because oftentimes I would be looking for that application, that “what does this mean for me” part. I would either miss it and get frustrated, or feel so overwhelmed knowing I couldn’t possibly do it right. But as I started this summer looking just to learn about Jesus, I really began to love him more. I learned that he isn’t so easily categorized or defined as we seem to think. He is so versatile and yet so constant. He isn’t just walking around peacefully blessing people all the time. No, he gets angry when needed. He stands up against religious leaders who were keeping their congregations shackled in their shame. But he was also so tender with people. He defended the weak and befriended the weary. The more I get to know him (how he thinks, how he operates, what he wants, how he loves people, how he teaches, what things about us upset him, and what things about us that delights him), the more I love him. The more I love him, the more I want to open my Bible and learn more and really find out what it means to follow him. The more I follow him, the more I notice the Holy Spirit teaching me where all of this applies to my life. I haven’t had to search for it as I had in the past; it has been placed onto my heart. The fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [Galatians 5:22-23]) have become a part of my daily life in ways they never could have been before. As these things become more a part of who I am, I am becoming more myself, that is, the person God intended me to be.
Have you ever tried out this approach? If not, give it try! (Especially in the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Look for places where Jesus is interacting with someone. How is he acting differently than you might have expected? What surprises you? What confuses you? How might his interactions be contrary to how we think a “good” Christian would act today? What does all of this tell you about his heart?