Digestion or Indigestion?

Eric Russ

The amount of information we have access to in our Christian culture is astounding (books, conferences, lectures, internet, audio, blogs etc.). With all this information at our disposal it seems the question we find ourselves asking each other is are you in the know? Meaning are you staying up on all the information out here? 

As Christians, it is wise to model Christ in Culture namely, that we desire to present Christ in the clearest fashion and that is best done when understanding and assessing our culture. I get all that, and I would be the first to admit that we are usually theologically and philosophically on point but the concern lies in the fact that our actions model that actually knowing and walking with God becomes a distant second in practical importance to information gluttony. Is that to harsh a statement? Let’s assess the situation further.

What is our motivation for why we read, study, and write? Do we spend just as much time discussing application of Gospel principles? Are we actually applying truth to our life (is our life changing)!

In the circles I run in, although not malicious in intent, there is a culture where the conversation basically goes like this, “did you read this, have you been on this site? did you know this… did you read this blog.” In response I either find great comfort in being able to say yes I read that (because I have become quite a nerd in the last twenty years), or if I actually know the person then I really feel good about myself or the most embarrassing is when I have not read the book but have been around enough people to act like I did instead of just owning up to not reading it (Lord help me!). I easily find myself jockeying for position to talk about those things I have read, and on a bad day even lying as if I have more information than is actually true. What I fail to ask is what truth is changing my life from the information I have gobbled up. What is actually making my life different?

So I ask myself what am I reading but not digesting. It almost seems like we read in order to fill our heads with knowledge that we are not serious about applying. It’s like a big popularity game. Who is the most informed Christian? We ask each other what have you read, we hardly ask how much have you applied? What three truths have you applied to your life? Where are you having to adjust your life because of them? Instead we keep consuming more information. That would be cool if we live our life according to the information we learn. 

A good friend of mine, Nate always encourages me that when I teach I provide a ton of information and that I need to calm down and actually provide one application point so that we won’t build a culture in the body that resembles what I am speaking against in this blog. So, trust me, I write as one in process and wanting to fight against the norm. 

Well, what do I think about information? I am the first to train people that what you do is predicated on what you know. Information is essential to being spiritually formed according to the desires of Jesus. But beware of not heeding the parallel rebuke of James. In 1:22 He says,  22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” He is talking specifically of those who hear God’s truth and never apply it to their life which is confirmed through obedience. 

Think about it, how does a book like Radical sell millions of copies and we not feel the affects at some level in our culture as christians apply gospel centered challenges explicit within its pages. Books like my very own Discipleship Defined was not meant to be an assent book. What I mean is I do not want someone to read my book and say “hmmm”, “deep”, “those were a lot of good points” and move on. Discipleship Defined was meant for you to say I either agree or disagree, and if you agree it demands action to be taken.

Personally, I have been amazed at the individuals who have ordered Discipleship Defined and are being very gracious to read it and give out to their friends as a resource. But what does it all really mean if people read DD and then even more laughable they actually affirm its convictions about discipleship, yet nothing changes in the person’s life that moves them toward the clear next steps that the book offers. You would think we would feel a sense of hypocrisy or something but for whatever reason people can read a book that draws many lines in the sand and yet leave the book never drawing lines of their own. How does this happen?

We need to ask ourselves if we intake truth and never digest it to the point where we make practical life changes toward Christ, then how are we any different than our culture. By affirming something that is true and then not obeying it, we in essence practically believe that our fabricated truth is “truer” than what God has told us.   

This sad commentary on our culture is the reason there is room for me to write Discipleship Defined. I realize that I am not the first to define discipleship, in fact, I am probably not the tenth. I guess, I now realize that this was not my goal. Our aim at Mack Ave Community Church is that people would not read our blog, download the resources and read the book and say “wow, that was a lot of good insight,” or “wow they are deep and never change any fabric to how they express the glory of Christ as it pertains to discipleship”. 

We are asking you to really ask yourself, if what is being said in the books you are reading is true, then how do you continue to lead a church where there is not robust training on how to share you faith? Where you are not practically going out and engaging others in the gospel. How do you remain a servant of Christ and never really learn how to study the Bible, but simply continue to be a conference groupie, going from conference to conference getting your abridged spiritual nourishment, reading blogs and getting smarter but not really training anyone intentionally on how to walk, communicate and multiply their faith. 

We must repent of information worship and begin to actually affirm our belief in Christ by applying for starters a tenth of the information he has already placed in us. It is okay to, but do you really need to read another book on evangelism or something like The Hole in Our Gospel as if you didn’t know you have been neglecting the poor?  Come on family, really?