“You better slow your roll, homey.”
Before hearing that phrase while waiting in line at Home Depot the other day, the last time I heard that was probably 10 years ago.
Slow your roll.
You’re a bit out of control.
Relax, what’s the rush?
The idea of a daily devotional goes back to the Reformation. For centuries many Christians went to daily mass, observed the hours, or similar practices.
The Reformation marked a turn from spiritual practices done largely in community towards practices that were more personal than communal. Private Bible ownership was extremely rare prior to the Reformation. And personal Bible study was largely frowned upon… seen as potentially dangerous even since you didn’t have a community of people or a religious leader to help you.
All of this has shifted, of course. A daily devotional is seen as a measurement tool that you are serious about your faith. You’ll hear people say things like, “My life was spiraling out of control a bit. But then I realized that I had just gotten away from my daily devotions. I fixed that and things have gotten better.” Is that truly a cause and effect? Like, does God punish you for not doing a personal Bible study every day? And does God make your day more smooth if you spend 30 minutes reading the Bible?
Of course not. Those things aren’t mutually exclusive. Jesus’ love for you is not conditional, nor is God’s benevolence.
A daily reading of the Bible or reading a devotional is just fine, I’d even say it’s good. But it’s not a biblical command. Millions of Christians are enjoying heaven right now having never done a single daily devotional. None of the Apostles read a single line of My Utmost for His Highest. None of them even owned a Bible! (And none of them ever said, in their lifetimes, “Open your Bibles to John chapter three…“)
Slow Your (devo) Roll
I’m not anti-devotional or daily Bible reading. I’m for it. It’s something I’ve practiced for decades now. So please don’t misread me in that.
But I do want you to consider slowing down. I really think one of the challenges we are all facing is that we’ve become consumers of the Bible and not recipients of the Word’s revelation.
As Christians, we believe every Word is inspired by God. Of all of the things God could write down for us to have… these 66 books are it. In some ways, it’s so giant. But in light of God’s omniscience it’s the summary on the back of a CliffsNotes, right?
Last night, one of our exercises in our high school small group was to read Proverbs 21 aloud. As Keith read my 2004 brain kept thinking… “Slow your roll, homey.” Actually, I stopped him over and over to say things like, “Whoa… let’s think about that for a second.” There was so much in there to contemplate… moving so quickly kind of devalued the wisdom in each proverb. It made my head spin!
We can’t just consume the Word of God! A devotional life isn’t just checking off a box to say, “Yup, I’m good to go. Spent some time in God’s Word this morning.” It doesn’t work like that. Instead, sometimes we need to slow down… S-L-O-W-W-A-Y-D-O-W-N. We need to make room for digestion, contemplation, contextualization, and application. To use a theological term we need to leave room for revelation. The Holy Spirit can’t do His thing if you don’t make room for Him to do His thing.
So maybe instead of a daily devotional you need a weekly devotional? Maybe instead of meditating on a new passage of Scripture every day you need to spend a month on it? Maybe you don’t need a daily Bible reading, maybe you need to download the message from Sunday and listen to it over and over again? (You know, the Holy Spirit works through your pastor, right?)
Or maybe you need to keep going back to the same passage until it sinks in, until it gets past the callouses and into the meat, until it literally becomes part of you? Maybe– though Christian culture tells you that you need to move on– you need to resist that temptation. Maybe you need to stop moving so fast?
Maybe you need to slow your devo roll, homey?
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.