Did you notice that the United States Department of Agriculture recently updated its Food Group Pyramid? Actually, announcements regarding the changes have been widely heralded. They underscore the generally held understanding that good health requires good nutrition. Another important reality is brought to light in this announcement: Sometimes, even when it pertains to the basics, adjustments must be made.
Have you ever considered the building blocks of your spiritual diet? Have you reflected on whether or not your dietary choices are enabling you to consume a balanced diet? More specifically, have you given any thought to whether or not you need to make adjustments in your spiritual diet in order to support and maintain good health?
How do you get a balanced diet? While this is not an exhaustive treatment of the topic, the following suggestions might help:
Are you reading your Bible daily?
As recorded in John 8:31-32, Jesus indicated that His disciples would know the truth as a result of continuing in His word. In applying the principle involved here, it obviously involves more than simply reading. Still, it stands to reason that, at a minimum, a daily diet of reading the Scriptures is involved.
Unlike Jesus’ day, we have a plethora of options available to us. We can purchase a variety of different daily devotional Bibles such as The Daily Bible. These provide guidance for a systematic approach to reading the Old and New Testaments simultaneously. The Daily Bible is also available with companion daily devotional readings. There are several options for doing this. A Comprehensive Bible Reading Plan is available by clicking here. Another exceptional resource is the Narrative Bible in Chronological Order, edited by Lagard Smith.
There are a number of web sites that provide searchable Bibles. The most comprehensive of these sites is the BibleGateway.com. One that I use often is Today’s New International Version. Another excellent resource is The Online Parallel Bible. A number of different study aids are available at www.bible.org. The serious student can find a number of excellent study aids by scrolling down the sidebar on Milton Stanley’s blog, Transforming Sermons.
In recent years, I’ve been moving towards a preference for simply reading my Bible cover-to-cover. This is always a rewarding endeavor. I usually encourage those who choose this option, to make sure they consistently read at least one chapter per day from the gospels. This reinforces the fact that our reading is not simply for the sake of collecting additional information. We are, in fact, Christ’s disciples learning to walk in His steps!
Are you involved in a disciple-building community?
Discipleship, by definition, is an interactive endeavor. The pages of the New Testament reveal that this interaction takes place in the faith-community of Christ, the kingdom-community often referred to in the New Testament as the church. One of the missions given to those who embrace Christ’s kingdom-calling is involvement in disciple-building relationships. One of the key components of these relationships is making disciples and then teaching them to observe the things which Christ has commanded. (cf. Matthew 28:18-20)
If I’m reading my New Testament correctly, this involves teaching, but it seldom takes place in a classroom. Just as Paul was a man-on-the-go, so also was Paul’s disciple-building ministry a very mobile entity. Just let your imagination run with the full breadth of meaning in his words when he encouraged Timothy in ministry. He said, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:1-2 TNIV). Those who seek to duplicate this sort of multiplying ministry see the value small groups. These provide us with an opportunity for interaction and in depth study in a context in which we can really develop a full understanding of the good things we have in Christ.
Saying this is in no way intended to diminish the value of the corporate worship gathering. When these are designed “so that the church may be built up” (1 Corinthians 14:26 TNIV), great strength can be gained by starting the week with our sisters and brothers in worship of our Heavenly Father.
There are a number of additional things which could be said in this regard. Hopefully these will underscore the point: Being plugged in to the disciple-building community of Christ helps us receive the balanced spiritual nourishment we need for good health.
Are you consuming wholesome, spiritually enriching literature?
Many people think nothing of spending several hours each day reading all types of literature—some of dubious value for our spiritual nourishment. Others can’t get through the morning without a perusal of the daily newspaper. Moreover, many of us think nothing of spending several hours each day before the television or in a digital-daze before our computer monitors. It is easy to spend so much time with other mental exercises that we have no energy left for devotional or inspirational reading.
Unfortunately, many people know a great deal about the life and times of a long laundry list of historical figures, but comparatively little about life and times of Jesus Christ. There is an ample supply of Christian literature available. I’m not going to rattle of a list here. The important thing for us to keep in mind is the importance reading wholesome, spiritual literature.
So, as we think about whether or not we are getting a balanced spiritual diet, each of us needs to consider these simple questions:
(1) Am I reading my Bible every day?
(2) Am I plugged in to a disciple-building community?
(3) Am I filling my cup with wholesome thoughts by reading spiritually enriching literature?
Depending on our answers to these questions, there may be some adjustments to our spiritual diets in order? If so, for the sake of our good spiritual health, we should make them.
© Bill Williams
June 13, 2006