Every Pastor, including me, hears this comment once in a while: “Pastor, what I want are meatier, deeper sermons. I just want to grow deeper in my faith.”
I get it. I love to learn, and I don’t like thin, superficial sermons either. And I’m concerned about a growing biblical illiteracy among believers. But I’ve learned that if you want to grow spiritually as a follower of Jesus, then you have to be willing to get humble, face pain, and apply what you already know.
Christian depth is not attained by the acquisition of more information about the Bible. The number of details I know about the bible in no way corresponds to my actual maturity. Depth is a byproduct of character formation. And Christian character formation very often happens through the crucible of suffering, a posture of humility before God, and by applying what you already know about God and scripture.
That pathway toward depth is hard. It’s easier to ask for depth through meaty sermons than it is to deal with one own suffering, pride and hardness of heart.
Ok that sounds harsh. But read about what Jesus said to the Pharisees (white washed tombs?). Jesus approach is instructive: On one hand, Jesus never showed anger to a sinner. Not once. On the other hand, he did get angry at self-righteous religious people who knew a lot about the Bible, but who were blind to matters that matter, like love for God, love for neighbor, compassion and justice.
A blog is a dangerous place for a pastor to rant. The possibilities for misinterpretation are many. But here’s what I’m trying to say about spiritual depth: Ten thousand heavy, meaty, verse-by-verse sermons will never accomplish depth–not without receptivity born from hardship, humility, and a real intention to apply.
Show me that, and I’ll show you depth.