The End of Bible Studies and What Jesus Really Looks Like

For years, my daughter had attended a Friday night small group at my in-laws house, while Jonathan and I would sneak off to enjoy our coveted date night. Riley would be scooped up onto her grandmother’s lap, raise her hands in worship, open her little kid Bible, and listen quietly as a group of twenty-somethings would exalt Christ.

My daughter began to refer to this meeting as “Bible study” and she looked forward to going each week. From the age of 2 until almost 6, she attended this small group and I can only imagine how much she gleamed in that time.

But as our family was re-directed by the Lord to leave traditional church and set about starting an organic church, both mine and Jonathan’s language had to change…and so did Riley’s. Each Saturday, our home is filled with 25 adults and almost as many children, where we gather corporately to worship Jesus.

Riley would geek out each Saturday morning, as the extrovert in her could hardly stand the few hours that had to pass before her church family arrived. “I can’t wait for Bible study!” she would yell.

Jonathan and I realized that we needed to correct her language, just as the Lord had corrected ours. This is not Bible study, we told her. This is church. We are the church. This is a family and this is our corporate gathering–where we all come together. But you, and your brother, and mom and dad, and any and everyone who loves Jesus is “The Church.” How cool is that….?

Perhaps it seems a small thing too. The very concept has become so trendy now: “We are the church.” But tell this to a six-year old who loves Jesus and watch it become meaningful and powerful once again.

But I won’t lie, I’m still grappling with this—still trying to grow in discernment of what it really means to be the Body. A foot, a hand, a heart, an arm–all as one functioning with the express purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ as Head.

And there’s all that other pesky and sometimes not-so-fun-stuff that creeps up too. Living in unity, regarding one another as more important than yourself, laying down your life for your brethren. The toughness of shared life…and the sweet sweetness of it too.

——

The other day, Chad a brother and friend in my church family, said during our gathering: “I don’t know why they call it ‘Bible study.’ I don’t read the Bible to study it. I read the Bible to study God.”

Yup. That.

I wished I had said it or at least thought it. I knew I would steal it because as Chad does so often, he sits quietly observing, listening to us and the Spirit, and then produces a gem that I scoop up and plop into my pocket, only to pull it out and stare at its many facets again and again.

And everything I am experiencing right now is that. Is this: that if it does not illuminate the Person of Jesus Christ, well then, what’s the point?

This family of saints that I count myself crazy blessed to be a part of, is showing me each and every day what Jesus really looks like: He is gracious, patient, selfless, funny, provocative, fearless, prone to fits of laughter, quick to lay on hands, filled with the Spirit, and drenched in the Father’s love.

Oh, it’s all in the Bible too, to be sure. But it’s also right in front of me, tangible and true.  The Bible speaks of Jesus, in all truth. My church family shows me Jesus, in all truth.

His Body. Not a Bible study, not a small group, not a weekly meeting, not a Sunday service. He can be in all those things, but really, He is just everything. Always. And He looks like my best and closest friends, my family, and my God.

Okay, so I rambled a bit, but hopefully you get it…or got something. Your turn. What is Jesus looking like to you these days? How are you seeing Him the most? Where are you seeing Him the most?

16 thoughts on “The End of Bible Studies and What Jesus Really Looks Like”

  1. I had hoped to be the one to steal Chad’s line, but you did it so beautifully, now I’m off the hook. There was no rambling here, but there was a glimpse into what is reality now for me, and something I pray the entire body of Christ–nay, the whole world–receives as well.

  2. Hi Nicole,

    First time responder. I liked what you said about bible study being God study. One thing I have been seeing is, that if my conversation is not about my relationship with JC, then all that I say & do, is so much smoke & mirrors to make me look spiritual & detracts from Him being expressed to others. Some times this actually gets me to shut up long enough to hear JC in other peoples conversations.

    IN CHRIST,
    David H. Lucas
    Merritt Island, Florida

  3. This is kind of blowing my mind this morning. I am still trying to develop a coherent thought on this whole thing. But when you said, “This family of saints that I count myself crazy blessed to be a part of, is showing me each and every day what Jesus really looks like: He is gracious, patient, selfless, funny, provocative, fearless, prone to fits of laughter, quick to lay on hands, filled with the Spirit, and drenched in the Father’s love.

    Oh, it’s all in the Bible too, to be sure. But it’s also right in front of me, tangible and true. The Bible speaks of Jesus, in all truth. My church family shows me Jesus, in all truth.

    His Body. Not a Bible study, not a small group, not a weekly meeting, not a Sunday service. He can be in all those things, but really, He is just everything. Always. And He looks like my best and closest friends, my family, and my God.”

    It really resonated within me. How true! We are supposed to be Jesus to one another. I think the Spirit is trying to teach me a lesson in this area. For the last couple of weeks loving one another as 1 John 4 talks about, being united together in Christ, and just being Jesus to other people has been a recurring thing. I see how short I am falling in that area.

    This post also drew me to Ephesians 1:22-23 “God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”
    I am also being retrained to think of the Church as the community of Christ followers, and not the building that we meet in or the Sunday service we may attend.

  4. I’ve been seeing God’s character in people but…I still need to read the Bible more anyways. He didn’t get a bunch of guys to compile stories of His greatness for kicks.

  5. To awaken to this source of Life, all Life has but One source, that of Jesus Christ. In this awakening we find this to be true “in Him we move and have our being”, and we see this as a gift, a gift of grace. Just as a child awakens to the love of their parents, as they begin to look beyond themselves, we can and do experience this with and ‘in’ Christ.

    As this miracle of all miracles unfolds we are moved, transformed, smitten, and overwhelmed by His love. We find again this to be true, “we love because He loved us first”.

    As this true enlightenment progress, we crave to see more, to know more, and to experience more of Jesus Christ, He quenches our thirst for things by givings us Living Water, and True Bread. We naturally desire to share His life with others, free of man made restrictions, and free of man made barriers. We find that Christ is community, fellowship, and ‘in’ this we see and understand more of Christ, and this promotes a deep love for ‘one another’.

    From this Body Life we find hope, hope in all circumstances, events, and situations, because we know He is love, and nothing…NOthing can separate us from Him…and this is Life.

  6. THIS.
    –The other day, Chad a brother and friend in my church family, said during our gathering: “I don’t know why they call it ‘Bible study.’ I don’t read the Bible to study it. I read the Bible to study God.”

    Brilliant.

  7. Just a thought, and I apologize if this sounds all cliche and eye-roll worthy, but…

    I wonder if we read The Scriptures or if The Scriptures actually read us. You know what I’m sayin’.

  8. I don’t know where Riley learned the phrase “Bible study”, but all those years at our Friday Night gathering, she heard us call it our “house church.” 1 Cor 14:26 is read almost every single week in order to remind everyone there that we gather as members of His body, with Christ as the head, directing each of us to minister to one another. Every part is important in His body.

    @Faux And yes, we also open up the Bible to minister truth along with grace so that we do not devolve into a room full of personal opinions, but as a group of fellow ministers carefully observing what God has told us, we “study” the Bible together in order to love Him more, to follow Him earnestly, to serve Him better, and to glorify God by displaying His radical, unconditional love to all, not only on Friday Night, but throughout the week (1 Tim 1:5)

    1. I know. As I wrote this, I was wondering where she got that terminology from because I know you don’t refer to it as that. I’ve certainly never thought of it as a “Bible study,” although that is one component of what goes on. I think maybe Kathy called it that once for her when she was little, just to call it something, and it stuck, but again not sure.

      Please know that I wasn’t referring to Friday Night as just a bible study either. I tried to be intentional and careful in my (albeit it brief) description.

  9. It is a wonderful blessing to gather together with brothers and sisters in an atmosphere of unconditional love and to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ! I am very excited about what the Lord has been revealing. I am also very thankful for the ministry of every member of the body through whom I am seeing the Scriptures in fresh ways.

  10. Awesome thoughts! For sometime now when I see something in a person, or they bless me with a kind word, or something only my Father knows I may be in need of I am quick to give Jesus the glory and thank him. It is him flowing in every good and perfect gift we see and find in each other:) We are nothing of ourselves, our righteousness is filthy, but Jesus is in us and that flows out so like the Bible says we can give HIM the glory and honor bc it’s really him:)

  11. Hi Nicole,

    I always read your posts, but this is the first time I comment

    I live in Quito-Ecuador. Our cultures are different (obviously) and I had never actually seen the “body of Christ” the way you explain it. This idea of the organic church is brilliant. Although I think it is difficult to break these schemes that are already in our mind, this “traditional” way of seeing church.

    I think sometimes we forget that the world does not revolve around us, the most important thing is that Jesus is the center of everything.

    It´s hard for me to write in English, but I hope my idea was clear :)

  12. Nicolle,
    I’m a short time subscriber. I discovered you through Frank Viola’s blog a few weeks back when he was recommending some blog sites. Interestingly enough, I am the “senior leader/senior pastor (whatever) of a church. We actually function almost identically to what you are describing as “organic.” Since my wife and I have the age to authentically get by with it, we more accurately function as the “father and mother” of the house. We meet in a large vegetarian cafe/coffee house. We always eat “pot luck” although as the last thing. Since I have a teaching gift, I do so about 30% of the time. There are several other gifted men and women who also teach. However, we also do a lot of “sharing” yay-Goding…what we call testimonies of very current God activity in our lives, plus we nearly always break up into smaller discussion groups for 20-30min before we eat. I guess we are hybrid leaning heavily toward organic. I’ve been around the church world a very long time and am one of the youngest 68 yr olds you’d meet. We’re about 75 strong with about 25-30% being margenalized folks. The only thing I am cautious about is the fact that many organic churches seem to “pride” themselves on “we don’t have a pastor” which leaves the impression that that’s more authentic. Many people see me as their “pastor” and call me that…or usually pastor Gary. Since we are functioning, as best we know, in the life on life of being the church, I don’t think my being recognized as a pastor/leader makes us “non real church” … or “inferior form of church.” I know you didn’t say that. I just relating how some of the attitudes of some of the organic church people makes guys like me feel. Love your blog.

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