Growing up in the 70's and 80's I have a deep appreciation for albums. Of course when I say this I'm referring to music, records, and songs, not photo. Although now that I think about it, I really appreciate those as well. [Another story for another day] There's something about the hidden or disregarded nuggets left in the goldmine that you find when you take time to listen. I think about The Beatles "Revolver", Journey's "Escape", Van Halen's "1984", U2's "The Joshua Tree", The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds"...and the list could go on. [Sorry if I left out your favorite album. Not the point.] We're living in a time where people are missing the forest for the trees. It's what I've begun to think of as "iTunes living". You can log on, listen to 30 second snip-its, and buy a song. I guess that's OK - in fact I've done it. The problem is when you begin to live your life - or especially read the Bible - this way.
I asked the question on Twitter yesterday, "If your church was doing a sermon series on any book of the Bible, what book would you choose?" I was very encouraged by the answers I got because they revealed a consistent desire from many of my friends and acquaintances to not only go deeper, but to dive into areas of scripture that are being neglected. The frustrating part of this was the consistent revelation that areas of scripture are being neglected! I saw a pastor on Twitter yesterday saying, "I don't want to debate theology over coffee." And I think I understood what he meant - that he didn't want to argue about Tribulation theory, he wanted to talk about how scripture practically applies to our lives today. Again, I think I get where he's coming from, but this is taking a step out onto ice that is paper thin. When you begin to view or consider theology a nuisance or stumbling block or barrier to real practical application, you're revealing a gross misunderstanding of what theology actually is and a gross neglect of the foundational importance of desperately seeking to KNOW the God of the Bible and to discover His character and heart that are not only woven throughout scripture, but are the essence of scripture. This can't be discovered by constantly picking a new New Testament letter to go through every week. There is so much more!
I watched an interview with a well-known pastor and theologian this morning where he said, "Beware of falling in love with LOVING GOD more than you actually fall in love with God." Does that resonate with you? In our "contemporary worship world" it's very easy to become infatuated with the feeling we get from corporate "worship" or singing more than to develop a wholehearted life-giving determination to seek and follow and OBEY the risen Savior. We take steps down this dangerous road when we begin trying to download God in $.99 snip-its rather than plowing through the weight of Hosea and begging Christ for a greater understanding of how I AM that prostitute who constantly sells myself to other things and that He IS that lover and groom that is willing to purchase me back from adultery and slavery. That understanding is not gained in snip-its or 2 minute reads on the back porch. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Read Hosea.)
I remember the days and nights in college when we would literally burn the candle at both ends, sprawled out in a friend's apartment on the floor with our Bibles spread out everywhere, collectively determined to pursue and KNOW the Creator and Redeemer who authored those pages. I also remember those days of sticking that album in as I would be laying on the beach or starting out on a road trip, and the vivid memories that those songs still reflect in my mind. In fact, just 2 weeks ago I was listening to one of those albums, thought of my childhood best friend, and picked up the phone and called him. It was indescribable, the flood of memories that washed over us.
[Please don't glaze over this one] What picture are you allowing the Lord to paint in your heart and mind with his Word right now in your life? What foundation are you laying with the goldmine of scripture available to you at this very moment in time? Are you setting up little rocks underneath your feet - finding stones here and there to try and balance yourself on? Or are you allowing God to pour this unshakable foundation that cannot be moved by anything belonging to this world? There IS a difference.
I know, you don't want to buy the whole album. You only want that song that they play 42 times a day on the radio. So be it. Just don't sell out and unknowingly settle for iTunes Theology. And don't deceive yourself - you ARE a theologian. You ARE a student and sojourner. But YOU have to decide what kind. YOU have to determine how far you will walk, how deep you will dive, and how firm you will stand. Do you really want to KNOW Him? He knows you. And He wants to be KNOWN by you.
My encouragement to you: Buy the WHOLE ALBUM! It's the disregarded and overlooked nuggets that will blow your mind!