There was a college student named Ben, who was given the assignment in one of his classes to make a presentation in class about a local hero. This hero was a firefighter who happened to live only a few blocks away from Ben, who had recently become a local celebrity due to his heroic efforts in a recent fire (he saved the parents, the kids, the pets, even the family picture album before the whole house went down in flames). Ben was quite a good student, and was actually pretty excited about the assignment. He went right to work on his presentation immediately after class: first to the library to find every article written about the hero or the fire, next to the local news stations to find every report made on the incident, and of course, to the library to find every resource to explain the causes and dangers of fire, what it takes to become a fire fighter, what the economic impact of a fire is on a community. Ben searched high and low for any useful tidbit he could find for his speech, and when the day came, he actually felt pretty confident that he would give a good presentation.
Ben approached the podium with mixed feelings, but his confidence won out, and in the end, he felt very satisfied with his presentation. He spoke well, was able answer questions confidently, and really felt like he’d offered his peers new information that had kept their attention. Just as he moved to step down from the podium to return to his seat, his professor stopped him with one last question: “What color are the fire fighter’s eyes?”
Well, Ben was stumped. No photo from the newspapers and no interview from the TV stations had gone in close enough to show the color of the hero’s eyes. “I don’t know” he replied.
“You mean to tell me that you interviewed the firefighter but never noticed the color of his eyes?”
Ben confessed that he hadn’t gotten around to interviewing the firefighter; in fact, the idea hadn’t occurred to him at all. He had spent all of his time getting to know all about what other people had to say about the situation, but never actually went to the source himself.
I think sometimes we get a little sidetracked like Ben when it comes to God’s word. We go hear sermons, we read articles, we read commentaries, and engage in all sorts of Bible-teaching stuff; sometimes before we ever to to God’s word. Psalm 1 tells us about the man who delights in God’s word, and the man who doesn’t. It promises that the person who meditates on God’s law day and night (don’t forget that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law) is like a fruitful tree planted next to streams of water, whose leaves do not wither. It certainly doesn’t say the person who delights in God’s law AND the reference section of the Christian Bookstore is blessed in this way.
Don’t get me wrong. I have concordances, dictionaries, commentaries, and favorite speakers and I like them all. But I certainly don’t ever want to get to the point were these things/people replace the Bible. I think every now and then a spiritual check up is a good thing, and having an accountability partner certainly helps here.
Bottom line: how can we claim to know anything worth telling about our HERO, if we aren’t meeting with him whenever we can? Otherwise, all we actually have to offer is “here’s what so-and-so says about Jesus”