The world goes by at a million miles an hour, and it seems to go faster and become more complicated at every turn. It’s not at all hard to get distracted, disgruntled, and even disillusioned. We chase so hard after the things that we think we are supposed to—success, respect, love, money, whatever. We adopt the causes that we are supposed to adopt, get outraged over the latest injustice that we are supposed to be outraged about. And next week it all changes.
Somewhere along the way, the routines and cares of the world have distracted us. We have forgotten the reality of our faith. In all the business of life our faith threatens to float away like dandelion seeds in the wind. We need a firm foundation.
We need to get back to basics.
The Christian Basics Bible reminds us what our faith is all about in the first place.
Becoming a Christian is not about deciding to live better, trying to be more holy, going to church, or following certain religious practices or behaviors. It is about beginning a personal relationship with God. Religious rules and duties will always end up tying us up, as Jesus often reminded the highly religious Pharisees of his day. Jesus came not to tie us up but to set us free (see, e.g., John 8:31-32; Galatians 5:1). He came with good news (the meaning of the word “gospel”); and this good news is that ordinary people—even people who feel unworthy or have failed or have done bad things—can know God personally and live in harmony with him. (pg. A11)
That’s a pretty “back to basics” truth right there. It’s also unbelievably freeing if we take the time to actually read it, digest it, and be changed by it. But the business of life, even the trappings of our faith, can rob us of this truth.
So how can we make a practice of getting back to basics, of being a “basic believer”? There are a lot of good answers to that question, but here’s a starting point, a first step if you will. In the book of 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul is writing to his young apprentice Timothy. Timothy is pastoring a church in the city of Ephesus. Ephesus was rich, influential, and cosmopolitan. It was a center of religion and commerce and the most important city in the Roman province of Asia. It was the place to be. In fact, minus the technology, it probably had a lot of similarities to the crazy lives we lead today. But the church there had all kinds of problems. Here’s what Paul tells Timothy:
Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. (2 Timothy 4:2-5)
Here’s what the Christian Basics Bible says about this passage:
[A] lack of studying the Scripture has led the Ephesian church to be led astray by every new idea that came along. So Paul urges Timothy to keep studying Scripture so he can use it to correct error and explain the truth (4:2-5).
We need this book because it is not like any other book, secular or sacred. It is “inspired by God” (3:16). That is, God’s Spirit directed the thoughts of its writers so that what they wrote was exactly what God wanted written. The Bible is therefore God’s revelation to us—revealing his nature, heart, and purposes—and his invitation to join in his story. (pg. 1387)
You’re probably not a pastor like Timothy and may never be, but the advice still stands. The only way Timothy could teach others was to be captured by the truth himself, to really know it. Getting back to the basics of our faith and of our relationship with God starts with getting back into his Word.
I want to be a basic believer. How about you?
Find out more about the Christian Basics Bible.
-Kevin O’Brien is the brand manager for Study Bibles and Reference at Tyndale Bibles.