I posted about my tendency to be a non-conformist a couple of days ago.
This has carried over into my Christian walk and in the materials that I read.
When The Prayer of Jabez came out, I read it and didn't feel overly inspired like everybody else. Then the hype was so huge that it felt like it became more about what the author had to say than Jabez himself.
When The Shack came out, people were flipping out about how I needed to read it! Rick read it first and he couldn't wait for me to read it so we could talk about it. I finally read it and was, like, "okay, that was a good story and all, but doesn't the Bible already say that?" Honestly, I wasn't impressed.
Then came the hype of Crazy Love. I have heard people talk about how life-changing it has been for them and how much more they love people now than they did before they read it. I've read the first several chapters of it and, honestly, I don't get the excitement. Again I wonder why the world is now so convinced that Francis Chan has the answer to how to love people more.
I'm a little skeptical these days about the expression of love in The Church. The love I've experienced has been one where I am loved and accepted if I do A, B, C and D. But, remember, I'm a non-conformist by nature. Sticking to the program is difficult for me. So, love is clearly withheld time and time again.
That's a little frustrating to me, and it certainly has caused me to have feelings I wish I didn't have. But, I don't doubt for a second that God isn't in those feelings and isn't using them for His Glory. Sure, it doesn't look to others the way that they think it should look. But, God is moving in me .. in His way and in mine.
I had such a stirring in my spirit this morning about love. Why do we feel like we have to search and search and search to figure out how to do it? Doesn't the Bible itself give us those answers? I mean the raw Word of God, not someone else's interpretation of it or revelation of it? I don't want to learn how to love according to Francis Chan or anybody else. I want to learn how to love from Love Himself.
God is Love ~ 1 John 4:16
Coupled with this I have also had an extremely difficult time finding a Bible Study that settles with me. So many studies seem to be thematical, so feel empty to me. And Rick and I have discussed lately how it is our own responsibility to study the Word, not someone else's to spoon-feed it to us.
So I pulled out my NIV Study Bible and looked in the concordance. The word "love" appears in the Bible 519 times, if I counted right. And this doesn't include the number of times it says "loved". The word love is found all the way from Genesis to Revelation. God has plenty to say and teach on it. So why not learn it directly from Him?
This past spring I did a SOAP study on the book of 2 Samuel. It was very inspiring and eye-opening for me. In a SOAP study you take a passage from the Bible and read it. You journal about a specific Scripture, then write an Observation, determine and write about an Application to your life and then write a Prayer. It's actually quite simple, and God speaks LOUDLY and CLEARLY!
So I had my answer this morning ~ Do a SOAP study on Love. This is going to take me a while! If I take one verse at a time it will take me close to two years to do it. But time is all I have. I have ideas how I will accomplish this, although I'm not setting up a schedule. I plan to just let God move me along at His pace for me. It might be a verse a day, it might be 10 verses a day. Who knows.
I'm not issuing any challenges for anyone to join me, although you are certainly welcome to if you want, on your own time. I'm just entering into a little experiment to see how much my life can be transformed by sticking to the Word and studying it exclusively without any input from Bible study leaders, famous teachers or even friends and acquaintances. This one is just for God and me.