I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys going to see the dentist. No offense to all of my dentist friends—I actually only have ONE dentist friend, so “No offense, Mr. Crowe.” Whenever I have my bi-annual teeth cleaning and check up, I can pretty much count on the news, “You have a cavity.” My dentist has told me many times what the source of my problem is: too much Dr. Pepper and sweet tea, too little flossing—a lethal combination for teeth. [Pause – Sorry, I had to take a sip of this Dr. Pepper on my desk before I continue] Tooth decay is caused by the over-consumption of sugary foods along with neglect of proper teeth cleaning and maintenance. If the cavities are not dealt with, they will lead to more serious problems that require more severe treatments. So children, get in the habit of brushing and flossing your teeth now.
In a similar manner, there is a growing malady in the “teeth” of Christianity. As the spiritual diet for God’s people shifts from the meat of God’s Word to the comfort foods of cultural-Christianity, great cavities are forming. Bible exposition is replaced with sugary feel-good “sermonettes” (which produce “Christianettes”). Bible doctrine is substituted with laboratory-created artificial teachings of health and wealth. The preference (and pocketbook) of the consumer is what is driving the spiritual food industry rather than the decrees of God.
How do we deal with this “dental” problem? First, we must undergo the painful yet necessary surgery that gets to the “root” of the problem. The Psalmist gives the only sure cure; the “double-edged” scalpel of the sufficient Word of God:
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:7-11)
The Word of God is both the means of correction and of regular maintenance. This is why we must be careful not to neglect the daily reading of God’s Word. The effect of Bible reading is sure, though it is not always immediately felt or seen. It is like the movement of a glacier across the landscape of our lives. At times it seems to be doing nothing. However, it is always moving and always affecting us. It is constantly, though sometimes imperceptibly, making subtle changes to our thoughts, words, actions, motives and desires. As the weeks, months, and years go by, we will be able to look back and see the cumulative effect of this essential habit in our lives.
If daily Bible reading is not currently a habit in your life, I urge you to begin now. There are numerous plans available online that will give you a schedule so that you can read the whole Bible or portions of Scripture in a year’s time. The M’Cheyne schedule is excellent and widely used. Our church used this plan two years ago, did a chronological schedule last year, and is just reading through the New Testament and Psalms this year.
Please commit to never substitute a consistent and healthy diet of God’s Word for the cotton candy of our culture. Make every effort to do the spiritual flossing and brushing that is necessary to maintain and strengthen the teeth of the church.