My earliest memories of buffet-style dining are very good! Seriously, what is not to like about a restaurant where you can choose not only which foods to have, but also the portion size as well?
I especially loved the dessert table, with its selection of deliciously mouth-watering sugary concoctions. The best part was each corner would have a stack of clean bowls just waiting to be filled with whatever your heart desired. As soon as my parents' backs were turned (probably looking at the evil salad bar) I would race around to heap spoonfuls of sticky confectionary into my eagerly awaiting ceramic dish.
More than a smorgasbord
It is easy to treat the Bible like a smorgasbord, a collection of exotic foods, sweets and desserts to taste and test, devouring those I fancy while leaving the others barely touched. Sorbet and Lemon Meringue Pie for me, I'll leave the salad and couscous for someone else. A medium rare eye fillet steak? Bring it on! Sushi? Not really my thing.
I regularly turn to my favourite verses and passages in the Bible. They comfort me, they instruct me, and I find solace in the familiar words. Most of all, I understand them, or at least I think I do!
However, there are passages containing concepts hard to grasp or representing a different side of my multi-faceted God, and I don't quite know how to deal with them. It is easy to skim those pages and return to the passages I understand.
Snacking on ice-cream, gorging on takeaway and eating Doritos for dinner are not going to make for a healthy diet. Sure, eating this way will keep me alive, but it's not proper nutrition.
In fact, keep up a diet like this and I'll see adverse effects in all of my life. My waist will expand, my breathing will slow, and my arteries will clog with fat. My immune system will be overtaxed, and chronic health conditions will inconvenience my daily routine. A bad diet makes for a very weak, sickly person.
When I pick and choose at the Bible, I'm setting myself up to be a very weak and frail Christian. To grow in my walk I need to look at all God has written for my instruction—even the I don't understand were put there for a reason, to strengthen and equip my faith:
2 Timothy chapter 3, verse 16–17 'All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.'
A well-balanced diet
When Paul said farewell to the Ephesian Church after spending some time with them, he was able to leave with a good conscience knowing he had taught them all he could about God—he hadn't drawn them in with carrot sticks and then maintained their attendance with regular bursts of sugar-infused sweets. He had given them a well-balanced, nutritious spiritual diet:
Acts chapter 20, verse 27—'For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.'
The Bible is an incredible book in which God has deigned to reveal himself to all who choose to search its pages. It is the story of God's involvement with humankind, and a key to unlocking the mysteries of a multi-faceted and wonderful God; but the Bible isn't a smorgasbord—if I only read at the desserts table, my view of God can't help but be incomplete, or worse yet, distorted.
Thomas Devenish lives in Hobart, Tasmania. He works as a motion designer and enjoys the diverse experiences life has to offer, from wake-boarding to curling up with a good book on a rainy day.
Thomas Devenish's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/thomas-devenish.html