In the mornings my children do a devotion on a Bible Verse. Part of that process is that they write in their journals 2 things about the Bible Verses they read; what the verse means (what the verse is saying in their own words) and an application from that verse (either what they can do or what it teaches them to remember).
Today I received a call from my 8-year-old daughter, who had a question about the Bible Verse that she had picked…generally I tell them which verse(s) to read, but today she wanted to pick it. She had chosen John 17:17, and she was stuck on a word. Sanctify.
This is one of my favorite things to do…help others go through the process of being able to correctly understand God’s Word. I do it regularly in my Student Ministry…I even created a ministry that trains students how to study the Bible called CRAVE Student Discipleship Ministries…but there is something extra special about getting to do it as a father. This is what I as a father am called to do; teach and train my children in the way of the Lord.
So the first thing we did was define the word Sanctify. I had my daughter look it up, and she told me that it meant “to make holy; to set apart as holy”. Step one of understanding this verse was complete.
Next, I asked her who was talking and who was being talked about in this verse. She wasn’t sure, so I told her to begin looking at the verses before it to find out. Context is so key to properly understanding scripture, and I want her to understand that even at her age. After she spent some time looking at the verses in John 17 that come before verse 17 but not finding what she was looking for, I helped her out by telling her she needed to look at chapter 16 verse 29. She then said to me “Jesus is talking, and he’s talking about his disciples”. Step two complete.
So then I had her tell me what the first part of the verse said in her own words, using the definition in place of the word sanctify. We spent a few minutes talking back and forth as she tried to piece it together. She finally was able to say something like “Jesus is saying to set apart my followers as holy in the truth.” Step three done…we were almost there.
She had a hard time understanding how the second half of the verse and the first half went together. I asked her what the verse was saying is truth. She replied “God’s Word”. I then explained to her that the context of this verse is that Jesus is praying. Then I asked her what this verse is saying. She stumbled around with her words a few times, but eventually landed on something like “Jesus is praying that his disciples would be set apart as holy in the truth, and God’s Word is that truth.” So what does that mean, I asked. “The Bible is truth, and it helps us be set apart as holy like Jesus wants us to be.” Bingo!
Such a cool moment as a dad, to be able to help my child understand how to figure out what God’s Word says, and to realize that God’s Word is so crucial to living as God calls us to live.
According to a 2014 Barna Group research study, 88% of American households own a Bible, but only 37% read it at least once a week (https://barna-barnagroup.netdna-ssl.com/images/BU-040814-Slice_2.jpg).
According to John 17:17, those who are Followers of Christ are called to be set apart as Holy. We are set apart as Holy by the truth, and that truth is God’s Word. So if we follow the logic, our ability to live as God has called us to live and to be set apart from this world as Holy is directly connected to how much we know the truth of God’s Word.
Only 37% read it at least once a week.
If the Followers of Christ are not reading the Word of God, they won’t know the truth of God’s Word and therefore will not be able to live the life of Holiness that God is calling them to. To be set apart as Holy…to be sanctified…we must be in God’s Word so we know what God says, and we must obey God’s Word because it is the truth.
Only 37% read God’s Word at least once a week.
In the words of my 8-year-old daughter, whom I am trying to raise to understand the importance of living for God in a world where she will be inundated with messages that say everything else is more important, “The Bible is truth, and it helps us be set apart as holy like Jesus wants us to be.”
May we as adults be challenged by that simply yet profound truth that my daughter discovered today. May we read God’s Word regularly, and seek to obey what it says…because it is truth, and it is what we need to live for God as God calls us to live.