Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said that “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.” I submit that the same applies to our walk with Christ. Over the next five years, our growth – our ability to live a life that truly reflects and honors God – will be exactly what it is today except for the books we read and the people we meet.
There is one book in particular we must read, and that is obviously the Bible. How can we possibly live a life patterned after Jesus if we don’t read the firsthand accounts of the way He lived? How can we have a personal relationship with Jesus if we don’t learn His heart and His mission? The Bible is the must-read book if we are to grow closer to God. We mustn’t stop there, however. God has granted great wisdom and insight to so many throughout the centuries, and we have the privilege of sharing in that wisdom by reading books written by Godly authors. Never discount the fact that God can speak to you through another human being. We can certainly learn and grow by studying books other than the Bible. In fact, we can learn to live a Christ-like life by reading books that are not even particularly spiritual on their surface. Read books that deal with poverty and homelessness. Study different cultures and languages. Digest biographies of great historical figures and missionaries. Learn about various charitable organizations, their origins and working philosophies. If you don’t know where to start, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send you a suggested reading list. Be a constant learner, never stop. We need to constantly expose ourselves to the world around us so we will be better equipped to help minister to their needs.
This leads us to the second part of the equation: meeting people. All of the reading and studying we might do is senseless if we do not take that knowledge and apply it in a way that will further God’s kingdom. Reading about the poor and homeless is useless if we do not do everything we can to help them. Studying different cultures and languages has no point if we will do not go out among those people groups and begin to act in community with them. Learning about the lives of great figures in the past will serve no purpose if we do not take the positive aspects of their character and graft them onto our own. Having all the knowledge in the world about charities will amount to nothing if we ourselves are not charitable. We must not become reclusive or isolated from the world around us. It is our responsibility to build on the work of the past to shape a better future, a future that looks and acts like the Kingdom of God.
Does your life look like that of Jesus? Do you love others the way He did? Are you satisfied with where you are in the journey? I know I have never been satisfied; I mess up every single day, and I know I can always do a better job of loving others. Thankfully, there is good news! We don’t have to stay where we are today, we can do this life better, and we can be better servants of Jesus. The choice is ours; we can stay where we are or grow into the people Christ created us to be. The books we read and the people we meet will play a large role in that growth. Don’t neglect the time spent praying and worshipping Jesus. At the same time make certain you are not neglecting the reading of great books and meeting new people with whom you can share the love of God.