In our current series, we have looked at why we should read the Bible from the perspective of loving God with all our hearts. In this article, we will look at reading the Bible from the perspective of loving God with all our souls.
Before we begin, we want to make the argument of this article clear from the onset - that by reading the Bible, we love God with all our souls. Loving God with all our souls is therefore not only the reason why we should read our Bibles, but also the result of reading our Bibles. To resolve this cyclical argument, two questions must be answered:
- How does reading the Bible = loving God?
- Where does the soul come in in all of this?
To piece the argument together, we will start from the second question and work our way back up. As we survey our souls, I pray we will be honest with ourselves and reflect on our attitude and relationship not just towards Bible reading, but more importantly towards God.
What Our Souls Long For
We begin our survey by looking at what our souls long for - the things that we most want. While they might take various shapes and forms, they can be boiled down to three broad categories.
Our entire society is built on social interaction and it might not be too farfetched to say that we long for relationships. We are undeniably social creatures - from craving for our mothers’ attention as infants, to the urge to fit in at school as children, to our longing for community and friends as young adults. We all know this, even the most introverted and antisocial of us all. Before refuting the argument, it might be worth pondering for a second - is there not at least one relationship in your life that you cherish?
As humans we long to be a part of something bigger, of something greater than ourselves. For sports fans, why else do we cling to that ephemeral final game of our favorite sports team? For book lovers, why else do we long to get our hands on that book that allows our minds and imaginations to wander freely and wonder in amazement at the reality that really is not? Why do people get so emotionally and physically involved in social movements and even in politics? That burning passion that underlies our actions point to our longing for something greater than our mere existence, and as philosophical as that might sound, it is difficult to deny at its core.
As humans, we want to be happy. When was the last time you woke up and said to yourself, “I want to be as unhappy as I can possibly be today”? Need we say more?
What Culture Tells Us is the Answer
Culture has offered countless answers to our souls’ longings, with a spectrum that ranges from philanthropy to drugs. Admittedly, culture has changed quite significantly especially in recent years. All too often we find culture telling us to look horizontally for these answers:
This narrative tells you to “find your worth/happiness/purpose in something/someone else”, and that hits home closer than we would like to admit. How often do we find our self-worth in the number of friends we have or how popular we are on social media? How often do we define ourselves by how well we do in school, and later whether we excel at work? How often do we look for happiness and stability in others, and especially significant others, only to be let down time and again?
This narrative swings the other way and embraces individualism, bearing the all-so-familiar “find your worth/happiness/purpose within yourself” message. From pop-culture to gender-related politics, the message is clear: a “true self” exists somewhere deep within you, and that self is what everything must bow to and surrender. Over time that narrative has produced the notion that self-expression is the final arbiter of what is right and wrong, and that notion has had significant consequences in recent years. The scary thing is that it seems to be working - that by looking inwards people are able to find everything their souls look for. However, as Christians we know that this simply will not work, given our fallenness as broken sinners. It is impossible to find salvation from within, and our self-expression quickly becomes self-deception.
However, looking horizontally is not all these two narratives have in common. The most important thing to see is that none of these answers will be able to fill the void we find in our souls. To quote a study from Genesis by Timothy Keller, “and in the morning, it was Leah. And it will always be Leah!” These answers that culture offer will not be able to fill the void, because they simply cannot.
We were made to know Him
What then? Instead of looking horizontally for fulfillment and salvation, we look vertically to God because we know that He is the only one who can fully fulfill what we were made for.
The first relationship that God made in Genesis was His relationship with Man (Gen 1:26). Yet, this was not the first relationship that existed. Verse 26 tells us that God is an “us”, a reference to His trinitarian nature. This perfect relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit preceded that relationship with Man, and it was that perfect relationship that was extended to Man.
However, the sin of man at the Fall marred this relationship (Gen 3:23-24). How far have we fallen - from an eternally transcendent, infinitely delightful and loving relationship with God, to a people who continually flee from our Almighty God, demanding that we are the rulers of our own lives, looking everywhere but upwards to God for fulfillment and happiness? This gives us all the more reason to embrace the gospel message, that God would send His only begotten Son to die for our sins (John 3:16) that our perfect relationship with God might be restored. Christ alone paid for our sins, and it is through Christ alone that we can look upwards to have a relationship with God again.
Ecc 3:11 tells us, “he has put eternity into man’s heart”. Try as we might to fill in the gaping hole in our hearts with love, money and power, we are unable to do so. As St. Augustine said, “You have formed us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” Our souls were created to know God, and we will settle for nothing less.
How then are we to know this eternal and almighty God? We thank God that He is a speaking God, and that we have recorded for us His very Words in the Bible.
God inspired a book. Not a video, not a song. Certainly not primarily through dreams, or signs in the sky. He speaks, and His words have been recorded in a Book. This Book. So keep your eyes down on this wonderful Book that God Himself has inspired. Find true happiness in God alone, because only He is sufficient. Trust that as a Christian you are a part of something bigger - of someone greater. Be fully and wholly satisfied in the only relationship that can ever fully and wholly satisfy your longing. Love God with all your soul, because He is what your soul thirsts for.
Indeed, we can only do all these by reading His Word. How else are we to know Him?
Posts in this series: