I am a living witness that if one is serious about studying the word of God, he or she will experience a total change, for the better, of attitude, speech and behavior.
The word has that effect on the serious student; but, I have discovered that, the word can have a similar impact on the not-so-serious, intermittent church-goer.
I recently heard about a man who wrote a letter to the editor of his local newspaper.
“I used to enjoy attending church services, but lately I began to realize that it was all a waste of time. Over the years, I’ve sat and listened to hundreds of sermons by numerous preachers, but for the life of me I don’t know anything any of them said! That’s sad, but true. So, I stopped going.”
To the surprise of the editor, this little letter started a firestorm of responses from his readers, some in support and others in disagreement. This exchange of opinions continued for a few weeks until one letter was published which apparently put an end to the controversy, because no other letters were received thereafter on this issue. This last letter was somehow different.
Here’s the context of the letter: “For 30 years, my wife has prepared the most delicious meals ever. When I think back, I don’t know what was on the menu of any of them. But, there’s one thing I do know. Had she not prepared all those meals, today I’d either be malnourished or dead. So let’s leave the preacher alone!”
At first glance, it appears that the writer’s words were non-responsive to the topic at hand. What does consuming his wife’s delicious meals have to do with listening to the preached word of God? Obviously the writer intended a connection and the previous letter writers must have seen it and were persuaded that it made enough sense to bring the discussion to a halt.
So, what’s the connection? Think of it this way.
Natural food and God’s word have one thing in common; both are nourishment, food for the human body and the word for the human spirit. Nourishment can only occur if we do our part and ingest the right food. It happens for the body each time we partake of a delicious meal. But, what about the spirit; how is it nourished?
Logically, it follows that the word must somehow find its way into the human spirit for it to be nourished by the word. Enter the preacher. It’s his job to verbalize the word to those in attendance at the church service. Our job is to expose ourselves to the preached word by being in attendance. But, if we don’t remember what we heard, how then are we nourished?
Enter God. The scriptures say (Deuteronomy 30:14, Isaiah 51:16, Romans 10:8) that when we are near the preached word, God puts that word into our mouths and our hearts. Without any special effort to memorize the preached word, unknown to us, our human spirits are supernaturally being nourished. The end result is the abundant life Jesus came to give us all.
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in Los Angeles.
Pastor’s Corner is a monthly religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture to life today. The column appears on the first Thursday of each month in the Wave and its website, www.wavenewspapers.com.