The following is Part 3 of the article Bricks Without Straw
At the start of my walk with Christ, I was blessed to study Scripture with a wonderful Bible study leader named Celeste. She taught me that the choice for a Christian is not between good and evil, since that choice is already settled. Rather, the choice is between what is good and what is best. This requires being selective and living life prayerfully with a sense of discernment. The times in which we live continue to force Christians to make a choice between the good and the best. We live in a world with so many choices that we are tempted to not choose but to try to have and do it all.
While our choices of things in the Lord are increasing, such as Bible translations, books, audio and videos, the amount of hours per day allotted to us hasn’t increased. Consider how Christian literature from over twenty centuries of church history is becoming more available to the average believer. Protestants are becoming familiar with the writings of Teresa of Avila. Catholics are learning to appreciate the insights of Jonathan Edwards. Western Christians are being introduced to the works of Eastern Orthodox theologians such as Gregory of Nazianzus, Simeon the New Theologian and Bishop Kallistos Ware. Many classic Christian writings are now on the Internet or available on downloadable media.
Some simple math will show that our culture’s attitude of trying to have it all falls far short of reality, especially if Christians believe that and try to apply it to the area of devotional reading on these digital sources. The equivalent of a church library can now be stored as text on a single DVD as well as older media such as compact discs, or on more modern storage devices such as memory sticks or even large scale devices (relatively small and affordable) such as a terabyte drive (1 terabyte = 1,000,000,000,000 bytes [or characters] of information). To give you some sense of scale, a Bible with a fair amount of commentary and notes takes up about 5 megabytes (5 million characters) of information. If you put the equivalent of what a 1 terabyte drive holds into books the size of a pocket-sized version of the Bible and put those books, one next to each other, you would need one shelf just under 4 miles long to hold them.
Consider a scenario in which you purposely limited your Christian devotional reading to using a reader tied to a terabyte drive (a storage device unimaginable for everyday use only as far back as 2002 but commonly available today). This terabyte drive is filled to its maximum capacity with books, articles, etc. If your desire is to eventually read through every last piece of text on that drive, you will run into a problem, namely, with available time. If you devoted one hour to such a daily reading, it would take you a little over 39,452 years to get through everything on the terabyte drive. If you started at age 10 and read for one hour every day, for the next 80 years, you would get through only 0.2% of the readings available to you. Restricting yourself to a much smaller device such as an iPhone wouldn’t help. With the available space on an 8GB iPhone, your one hour daily readings would take 236 and a half years. Examples like these show us that with today’s choices, trying to have it all cannot happen. There is simply not enough time. You have to be selective and make a choice. Keeping this in mind allows us the freedom to know, ahead of time, that we must be selective and do so in the light of God’s priorities for our lives.
The same holds true for other aspects of our Christian walk. We can, in essence, be making bricks without straw, in areas that do not involve an oppressive schedule forced upon us by our jobs or through other life circumstances outside of our control. Strangely enough, we can engage in a self-imposed oppression. For example, we live in a culture that thrives on noise and activity. These conditions are not ideal for taking time to reflect on God and your life in Him. Yet, how often, when we are by ourselves, do we needlessly destroy the silence by turning on a television or an audio player?
End of Part 3
Links to the previous entries for this article