In the house I grew up in, there was a large, flat bush that grew across the patio. Underneath the hedge, you could hear all sorts of scuffling about as there lived a variety of wildlife – mice, blackbirds, robins, beetles, frogs, ladybirds and the like. You could sit in the kitchen and see different creatures sneaking out to eat the latest titbits that my Mum had left for them.
Every now and then, we’d get a hedgehog in our garden take residence under the hedge. And we would leave milk out for them and watch eagerly to see if we could catch a glimpse of them. They would totter out in the blanket of evening light and lap up the creamy goodness. But one day, we learnt that milk wasn’t the best for them. Although they seemed to enjoy it and would drink it, hedgehogs eat slugs and snails and insects, not milk. Milk was tasty, but to make them strong and healthy, they needed nutritious grubs and creepy crawlies.
Our spiritual diets can become a bit like hedgehogs. There are thousands of faith blogs and books and podcasts out there that talk about the gospel and biblical principles that you find in God’s Word. And they’re wonderful. I find them helpful and challenging and inspiring and they sharpen and refine me. But they were never supposed to replace the word of God. The meaty, nutritious meals that make our faith strong. If we’re not careful, we can end up living off the latest sermon or preach or Christian bestseller instead of turning to the bible. We can live off Christian resources that are perhaps a little easier to digest and take less work to understand. The bible is true and pure and powerful and mighty and perfect. It’s a light to our path and lamp to our feet. These other resources are good but they’re imperfect. They’re flawed and limited just like the people that wrote them. They don’t carry the same power and authority that you find in the bible.
Perhaps you get to the phase where you think “Did I really read that in the bible or did I just read about someone else who read that in the bible and thought that?” There’s a time when we need to silence the other voices and opinions and interpretations of what the bible says and just get alone with God to meet with him and listen to what he wants to say directly to us through the pages in his book and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Not to us through that Tim Keller, or to us through Spurgeon or Bill Johnson or Bobbie Houston, but to us through closing the door and opening the bible and hearing God’s voice personally.
So don’t stop reading the books and blogs and listening to the preaches, just make sure you eat the grubs too.