Yesterday, I baked bread from scratch. A few years ago, I tried it for the first time, and it was SO good! Sister and I just stood next to the oven after the bread had cooled and ate piece after piece with nothing on it - no butter or honey or jam. It was so fresh, and the aroma was intoxicating.
Fast forward a few years, and I realized it had been a long time since I baked those first two loaves. Why? Well, it's a time-intensive project. Is it gratifying? Yes. Is it nourishing? Yes. Do other people benefit? Yes.
So, it was time. Below are the fruits of my labor:
Okay, time to make the analogy. This morning at church, Chuck compared the study of Scripture to baking. First, you start with a recipe (a passage in the Word). You make note of the ingredients, go shopping, and prepare according to the recipe (study the Word, make note of the principles and lessons, live it out). Then, you reap the benefits of preparing the dish according to the recipe (enjoy delicious food and experience nourishment and health benefits). Makes sense, right?
Now, consider what happens when you don't follow the recipe. Case in point: Before baking the bread yesterday, I attempted a new recipe from my aunt for almond flour crackers. I bought all of the ingredients listed (sea salt, basil, thyme, and flax), except for the almond flour. I thought, "I have plenty of wheat flour - I'll just substitute."
All you bakers out there, I can just hear you groaning for me.
Anyway, it didn't work. Not at all! The ingredients didn't come together to form a dough that I could cut into 2" pieces and place on the sheet tray to bake. It looked (and felt) like a pile of sand. Although I've heard it said that baking is an exact science and cooking is more free-form, it took this real-life experience to confirm it.
Can you make the analogy?
When we try to take shortcuts or make substitutions to the principles in God's Word, things don't go right. The Bible is not a list of rules set out to inhibit our lives. The Bible shows us how to live the best life. It is for freedom that Christ set us free (Galatians 5:1). Shane and Shane sing it well in their song Liberty.
So, when we study the Word and follow the "recipe," is it time-intensive? Yes.
Is it gratifying? Yes.
Is it nourishing? Yes.
Do other people benefit? Yes.