As Christians we are called to serve in the church. We are constantly reminded that each member has a specific purpose or job that is essential to the rest of the members in the body. What is our role as young people in the church? We do not have large funds to contribute, nor do we have the experience or wisdom to be in leading positions. A mindset easily assumed is that after becoming older adults we may be able to serve the church of Christ on earth. But that is not the case. There are many unique ways young people contribute, and one that is often overlooked is reading. Young adults not only help the church now in being well-studied, but help the church of the future as well by spiritually preparing ourselves.
There are different mindsets in the young people in the church on the topic of reading. There are a few who read often because they really enjoy it, many who read only the most popular books, and some who rarely read a book from cover to cover. Whether reading is something one enjoys or something that one makes a point to avoid, it is an important and practical way we can serve. Reading is a fundamental way to gain knowledge, which is vital for the roles of the future leaders of the church. Hosea 6:4 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” While this phrase is often used when referring to the loss of fundamental doctrines seen in the church world today, it is also an important truth that we must apply to ourselves. While our Christian high schools give us a tremendous amount of knowledge, this fact cannot be used as an excuse not personally to pursue further knowledge.
This pursuit is done well by studying books of good, solid material. While reading for leisure has its place, it is not the type of reading that is necessary here. Why is the work of this type of reading important for young adults? It is important because we must understand what we believe. This knowledge must come from personal study of the scriptures. Personal devotions cannot be stressed enough. Our Christian relationship with God is very personal. That personal relationship cannot be fulfilled only by sitting in catechism and memorizing Lord’s Days. While that is very important, a well-rounded amount of knowledge is important. Along with reading of the scriptures, good sources to read to help serve the church can also be found in reading works from Augustine, John Calvin, Jerry Bridges, C.S. Lewis, and other men of faith. Reading these kinds of works can be a heavy task. Dictionaries, commentaries, and a wise parent are often needed when forging through the pages. Why are the works from former men helpful? Ecclesiastes 1:9 states, “There is no new thing under the sun.” Many of the questions that these Christians struggled with are questions we ourselves have faced or will face in the future. They also were blessed with the gift eloquently to explain complicated ideas that the Bible holds in ways we can better understand them.
The work of reading is not just limited to the works of theologians. It can also be found in simply keeping up with what is going on in the world. In 1 Chronicles 12, David is about to be crowned king in Hebron. The chapter lists many mighty men who join David. Among them are the sons of Issachar, who “…were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” This is a lesson we can learn ourselves. It is easy as a young adult or college student to be sheltered from news or growing fads that are going on outside our community. It is important to have knowledge about the political scene, world events, and different movements that are going on if we are to understand them better, support positive things when found, and when necessary, refute unbiblical things. It is important to find the core ideas and feelings that are driving movements, ideas, and beliefs, and compare them to our Biblical world view. Reading is a major key to staying informed. There are millions of blogs, online articles, and newspapers that are at our fingertips with a few key strokes that can be read in order to understand the world and times that the Lord has placed us in. Like the sons of Issachar, this understanding of the times will help guide in the knowledge of what things ought to be done and what decisions made.
The blessings of this work will be two-fold. The knowledge we gain from being Biblically grounded and well-informed will help us to gain discernment and perspective in a world that serves a different master. This benefits our homes, our churches, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. When questions are asked, we can speak with informed, engaged intelligence, and we know where we can point others for solid answers. It also gives us the knowledge to sharpen each other as friends and give biblical advice. But this is not the most important reason. Any relationship that grows in a deeper knowledge and understanding will grow stronger; this fact applies also to our relationship with our heavenly Father. In Philippians 1:9–11 Paul prays that the Philippians’ love would “…abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” Young adults not only help the church now in being immersed in the scriptures and well studied, but help the church of the future as well by spiritually preparing ourselves to pick up the banner and continue in the march to Zion. The prayer Paul prayed was for the Philippians’ love to grow with knowledge and discernment, which would lead to being able to discriminate right from wrong. The church of Christ is called be wise and discerning, to value the truth. Searching out knowledge through reading is an important tool to guide us personally in our relationship with Christ, and to aid us in best serving the church body.