Posted by: jmark | August 28, 2005

Do you need to kiss your wife in private if you have already said, "Hello", to her in public?

Or, Do you need to do your daily Bible reading when you are at a Christian camp or conference?

Here is something that I was asked recently – if you are at some sort of Christian teaching event (camp, conference, mission team) where you are already receiving a lot of teaching, do you need to spend time in personal, private devotions? Surely you are getting enough in the teaching.

I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but my instinctive reaction was, “Of course you should still spend time with God in private.” But I couldn’t really think of a good strong reason. I knew that in my life, I felt I was copping out in not to spending time with God in personal Bible reading, prayer and worship – even when I was at a ministers’ conference.

However, a day after the conversation had occurred (why is it always a day later you get these insights?!), the answer came to me. Or rather it wasn’t the answer, but my wife that came. She came to see me while I was leading a church camp. We stood and chatted a while with everyone standing around, and we talked as a group, and I heard what she was saying.

But that wasn’t enough. I wanted to talk to her by myself, I wanted to hear what she had to say, I wanted to tell her about my week, I wanted to know how she was, I wanted to spend time with her on my own. It wasn’t enough that I had heard her speak generally to others, and even specifically to me in front of others. I wanted to talk to her and talk to her about personal things.

It dawned on me that our relationship with God is similar in many respects. Its not enough to take in the teaching – we should long to commune with our Saviour. I’m not suggesting that we seek private revelations from God, but rather that we need to spend personal time with him, even at conferences or camps.

It may be the case at a conference or a camp that we do put our regular Bible reading pattern on hold, and take the talks and use that to form the basis for our personal meditation. Or we can read the passages that we have been studying, or are about to study. Or perhaps we take what has convicted us and pray over it and apply it to our own lives.

In any case, I suspect that when we start asking questions that begin with, “Do we need to…” – then there might be a more pressing issue of perspective that needs to be looked at. If I have to ask myself, “Do I need to kiss my wife?” – then I know something’s wrong! Why do we read our Bible and pray? Is it just for knowledge? If so, then there is no real need to read and study more when we are being well fed at a conference. But it’s not about knowledge; it’s about relationship. And any man who is content to say ‘”Hello” to his wife in public and not long to converse with her personally in private has missed the point.

I wonder are we missing the point sometimes in our relationship with God?

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