We had our laymen and women fellowship last August 17 which we focus on the theme Passion for God. The whole day affair was a blessing to us as we share the preaching and fellowship within our sector.
In the afternoon session, we had an open forum. We were grouped into four then we discuss questions pertaining on how we can develop a passion for God. Each group presented their answers in front of everyone. The afternoon was well spend with insightful and engaging discussions.
As much as the thought exchange went well, I feel that I have to share something since we are nearing at the end of this quarter fellowship. The open forum did miss out some questions our speaker provided. And something that is near to my heart was not raised out. So I ask our chairman if I can speak to answer a specific question. The question is about reading and resources that read to ignite our passion for God. So I gave brief talk probably 5 minutes about nurturing a passion driven reading habit. I wish I could have spoken for couple more minutes but I don’t have much time. But if they did allowed me to elaborate further, my response might be like the one below.
Cultivating a Passion for God Though Reading
In response to one of the questions our speaker gave us which is dear to my heart, I would like to share 3 things that could help in the pursue of God through the habit of reading.
It depends on what is accessible to us.
We might blame the internet for the collapse of the record store industry or an impending doom over physical book shops however the internet made something unthinkable. We can access music and literature online free. What can take days or weeks to access is now just on click away. The internet, though slay the physical stores, it offers something revolutionary in digital proportions!
It might be a happy ending then for us who hunger books and music then again what happen?
Just when the internet makes classical music accessible, what did we do?
Just when the internet makes poetry accesible, what did we do?
Just when the internet makes some Christian books accessible what did we do? We turn to social media. Messaging boards and chat rooms were the precursor of the social media today. We consumed them then moved on to Facebook and Twitter.
So how can we built a passion for God through our reading materials when we dont access the good stuff? How do we create good habits when we don’t avail those vast resources in the internet? How can we contribute our reading habits? Make the internet work for you. You have no excuse because of the bulk of materials that are few click away are at your disposal.
It depends on how we view reading.
In the Philippine context, we are not a reading culture. This doesn’t mean we dont read or we are illiterate, it just mean that reading is not in our blood. Reading here is a sub culture. If I will look back on my childhood days, I can see all the magazines and comics I enjoyed. I think this is the golden age of reading (late 70’s to mid-90’s) because we buy newspapers and when we go to our neighbor, we devour magazines, comics, songhits and pocketbooks to our hearts desire. Publishing houses are dishing out reading materials here and there. Booksales (the popular second bookstore) are everywhere. Those where the days as they say. Then the internet came and almost obliterate the publishing industry in the Philippines. It also took toll on how we value reading. Suddenly we became too lazy to read.
Then there’s was the emergent of Wattpad that gave us teens and young adults that read books (and also writes). For me that resurgence really made a mark and push people to read. Book fairs and comic conventions are booming is another factor to take note. But thats not enough.
Pinoy Christians should view reading as a discipline, a skill that we need to be learned and to focus on. Again, it’s not in our blood to be readers and it will take a time and effort to put it in our system to be a good reader, nevertheless it’s attainable. We can create a good habit of reading that will be beneficial to us. Reading that is not just for entertainment, but a more of empowering ourselves to pursuit a passion for God.
Social media, with all of it’s benefits to us wouldnt help us achieve that focus. We allow Facebook updates and Tweets to distract us for doing what matters most. It’s an instant gratification because it magnifies our narcissism. Maybe it’s time to lay down our phones and get something to read that in the long run will benefit us and the church.
It depends on what we are willing to let go.
Purposeful reading does have competitors. One of those rivals is Facebook. Rather that occupy ourselves with books that will glorify God we substitute it with something that will glorify ourselves. Not that Facebook is evil in itself but how it robs and distracts us of our time to allocate it to things that matter. Having said that, as believers are ready to give it up for the sake of reading for the Kingdom?
Another one is the TV shows that is a staple to our Pinoy culture. Phenomenal shows like Ang Probinsyano, The General’s Daughter and tons of K-Drama will keep us occupied the whole night. Are we willing to cultivate beneficial reading over Ricardo Dalisay?
We only got 24 hours everyday and sleeping already had a chunck of it. So how do we spead our time? Sacrificing distraction for something beneficial should be our priority.
In the church setting, it’s the responsibility of the pastor to teach his members to be good readers. How do the pastor do it? Recommend good books by mentioning it to the pulpit. Quote some of it on your sermons. Set up book reading clubs. Give books as gifts to special occassions to you members. Deliberately point out the negative effects of social media. Suggest time management. And on and on we can go with all of this. The point is, reading with the endgame of knowing God more matters even in our reading habit. May God bless us all as we take steps to attain this noble pursuit.