More from Neal Eckert

by Upper Room Administrator on Monday, September 11, 2017

Is God’s Word Powerless?

That was the question I wondered after years of spiritual training. Maybe you’ve wondered the same thing but felt scared to pose the question in a church small group.

I sat through hundreds of chapel services (Monday through Friday), Wednesday night services, two Sunday services, dorm devotions and that’s not counting dozens of Bible-rich classes.

After graduation, I left sad and empty. I was planning further education in ministry but couldn’t get myself to budge. I didn’t even know how to unravel that much information even though it was great stuff.

It was like learning all the great things about your Dad but never getting in touch with him personally. I don’t think experiences like mine are unique.

Years later, I still have questions.

Could it be that the knowledge aspect of our faith has been so over-emphasized that we’ve lost touch with what a true relationship with God looks like?

Especially in developed countries of the world, this seems the case to me. For years, I sat through lecture-hall church services where I struggled to find one deep friendship. If I wrestled so much to relate to others it shouldn’t surprise you that I also struggled to relate to God.

This past year, God gave me two Christian friends. I never had friends like that before. The transparency, love, and depth of those friendships changed my life.

There was a struggle in my soul recently. I admitted to one friend that those relationships had more of an impact on me than decades of church services. I felt guilty, almost sacrilegious for my admission especially as someone who’s pastored.

This friend led me to a quote from Francis Chan that helped turn the light switch on for me. Chan describes a person who is so overweight they can’t leave their beds. They’re always eating but never doing anything. He then equates this to the state of many Christians. He calls them spiritually bed-ridden. Always feeding on more and more knowledge but never applying the knowledge they amass.

Looking back, I wonder if I left my Bible training spiritually bedridden.

Credits completed? Check.

Good grades? Check.

Diploma? Check.

Outwardly respectable? Check.

But spiritually speaking, I had to be pushed off the grounds in a hospital cart with no idea how to do something with what I learned. With little to no understanding of how to relate to the One who enabled my heart to beat.

So, is the word of God powerless?

First, let me pose a different question.

Is food powerless for those bedridden because of obesity?

Nope.

The same power resides in their food as it does for anyone else. There is tremendous energy and power in that food. But it can’t be realized without action.

In the same way, God’s word is no less powerful for the millions of spiritually bedridden among us. It’s just that the power can never be realized until we stand up, get out and do something with the powerful energy we ingest.

God’s word is fully alive and will always be.

But are we alive? Perhaps that’s a better question.

I’m convinced that over-consumption of Bible knowledge without action is damaging to us. Spiritual knowledge was never meant to be hoarded. It was meant to be shared and lived out.

Spiritual knowledge without action warps our personalities and makes something terrible out of our souls. Our souls become hypocritical and dark.

That’s why there are examples in both the Old and New Testament of nations without faith in God who were considered more virtuous by God than the Israelites.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though, for you or for me.

Keep learning, yes. But get out there and love on people and watch the power of God’s word bust out of the cage!

 

Neal Eckert

14 Comments

Comment by Brenda of Mitchillville, MD

Mr. Neal. Your devotional was very taught provoking today for such a time like this, where we have so much problems in the world regarding the color of ones skin. God made us all and we are all His children. I'm watching the news with all of these calamities that are taking place all over the world today. The Bible clearly states there would be wars and floodings and that is what is going on around the world now. God is giving us a chance to repent from our wicked ways and accept Him. Again thanks for devotional today. Be Blessed.

Posted September 10, 2017 at 10:19PM CDT
Comment by Patty of Toms river, NJ

Very interesting and thought provoking perspective. Thank you for sharing! God bless you and your beautiful family.

Posted September 11, 2017 at 02:03AM CDT
Comment by Georgine

Neal thank you for the devotional and this more from the author. I agree with what you wrote knowledge without personal interaction with God us sterile we really need to taste and see that God is good.
Georgine Arquà Petrarca Italy

Posted September 11, 2017 at 03:01AM CDT
Comment by Joe of La Porte, TX

Head knowledge of The One True God, is not the key to open the doors to our hearts. Theological education provides information about God. To have a personal relationship 1st requires acceptance of Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, thus being indwelt by his Holy Spirit, as we know and believe.
Like reading a biography about someone and knowing about them very well,
must spend time with that person, to know them intimately.
How can we better to do this than being still in prayer and meditation ?
God knows each of his children so intimately, he knows exactly what we need to be what he wants us to become, so that we may fulfill his plan for us.

Posted September 11, 2017 at 05:32AM CDT
Comment by Lester of Whiting, NJ

Thank you Neal for this devotional that awakens many Christians.
Neal has a shaven head that may cause some people to categorize him. Yul Brynner certainly had economic success with his shaven head, as a result of acting in such movie roles as the king of Siam and the Egyptian pharaoh at the time of Moses.
Sadly today's politics brings to mind sabotaging the message of today's devotional, as was manifest by the riots in Charlottesville. Many Christians voted for Donald Trump because of his bigoted views on just two issues, abortion and homosexuality; although many of Trump's actions are far from Christlike. That points to two categories of persons mercylessly judged, women having abortions and LGBTQ persons. The homosexuality issue is prominently divisive in every mainline Protestant denomination. Some denominations have already split. United Methodists are in turmoil but have not yet split -- I hope they never will. The United Methodist climax began with the election of a married lesbian bishop; although that is against The Book of Discipline (the United Methodist rule book). United Methodists have formed the Commission on a Way Forward that is grappling with how to avoid a split over the LGBTQ issue.
I myself am in a category that faces descrimination. I have the lifetime ADD/ADHD challenge. Persons with ADD/ADHD often find that is a barrier to economic success; however Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein were ADD/ADHD.

Posted September 11, 2017 at 06:03AM CDT
Comment by patricia of laurelton, NY

Thank you so much Neal for this thought provoking post. I am pondering over it and will surely make sure I make use of what I learn through my daily walk with our God. Thank you also for sharing those lovely pictures of your family. Remain blessed.😇😇🌹🌸🌞😊

Posted September 11, 2017 at 08:22AM CDT
Comment by Rudy of Chicago, IL

Neal, Thank you for part of your dilemma. We have all studied, participated and involved ourselves with endless Bible studies. But what has it gotten us? We are still judged by our skin color, favoritism because of wealth, power and other man-made issues. If we greeted everyone as those created in GOD's image, this world would be a better place. You definitely hit the nail on the head by stating that spiritual knowledge without ACTION makes something terrible out of our souls. Thank you for an honest assessment!
Rudy

Posted September 11, 2017 at 10:08AM CDT
Comment by Richard

Thank you Neal, your candid thoughts cut to the heart of Teachings/Spirit of CHRIST, aroused a feeling of guilt for me, feel sure I'm not alone...refreshing...Book of James speaking to my Spirit! :) Blessings, Richard, Marietta, GA

Posted September 11, 2017 at 10:45AM CDT
Comment by Neal of Hart, MI

Hi, Richard!

Thanks for sharing and for your transparency. There is a better way and admitting it is freeing. Personally, I don't think it's surprising that people experience the struggle mentioned in this blog post.

Especially in the "wealthier" countries of the world (Are they really?) there's often a loss of focus. The attention goes to bigger buildings, budgets, teaching, knowledge, power, prestige, programs, more education and so on. Most of those aren't bad in and of themselves but they should be the servant, not the master. Too often, that's not the case.

There's something I keep wondering lately. My experience of Christianity in the western world is confusing. Although we've obtained an incredible amount of knowledge, there is something I find painfully lacking in our everyday lives--Faith.

It's as if we spend our whole lives trying to eliminate any need for faith and then throw God in at the end. But since faith is the greatest indicator of a Christian, why would we want to do that? Perhaps, we haven't seen it modeled or we're scared. Scripture hoarding and action-less Christianity needs to stop. Agreed? We were meant for so much more than that!

Neal :)

Posted September 11, 2017 at 04:09PM CDT
Comment by Neal of Hart, MI

Thanks for sharing, Rudy! You’re right. The world would be a much better place if we could learn to judge less by appearances—to see others as God sees them. May God help us do even half of what we learn!

Neal :)

Posted September 11, 2017 at 04:17PM CDT
Comment by Neal of Hart, MI

Thanks for your kind words, Patricia. I’m glad it gave you something to think about. This is a topic I’ve struggled through for years—I just haven’t known what to do with those thoughts until now. God bless!
Neal 😊

Posted September 11, 2017 at 04:23PM CDT
Comment by Edd of Ocala, FL

Neal, the old statement "Faith without works is dead comes to mind". God is Love for All!!!

Posted September 11, 2017 at 04:43PM CDT
Comment by Daisy of Oak Harbor, WA

James 2:17 comes to mind, Neal. We could be engrossed in the Word but if we are not engaged in the life of our church, in others, or our own family, our faith that lacks action is dead and useless. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. God bless your beautiful family.

Posted September 12, 2017 at 12:05PM CDT
Comment by Kathy

Neal, thank you for your thought provoking devotion. It reminded me of when I used to work in a Learning Center where the employees of the bank where I worked came to us to upgrade their skills. Sometimes it was as simple as learning Word or Excel, other courses were in managing your time to become more efficiently or change management where our employees learned how to accept change and turn it into a positive opportunity. Other bank employees learned how be lenders, and mortgage experts or small business advisors. What I used to tell the people who attended these courses was that it meant nothing unless they could put what they learned to use. No sense in having all these accreditations and not use the skill.
It is the same as our faith and the religious knowledge we acquire. It really IS "bedridden" if we don't get up, get out and share it. It stays that tiny mustard seed. Thank you again, Neal. You gave me a boost to go forward and "feed His sheep". xo

Posted September 12, 2017 at 06:46PM CDT