I know I’ve said, and I know I’ve heard the expression, “I would like this book/sermon/study to go ‘deeper.'” What that really means varies from person to person. One time I actually asked a pastor I respect what “going deep” really means? He responded like this: “It’s giving someone a fresh perspective on the passage that they’ve not heard before.” I don’t disagree that this is a good thing. But what does, or rather should, going “deep” or “deeper” really mean? Trevin Wax on his blog Kingdom People poses this question and considers an answer from a “gospel-centered” perspective.
It’s interesting you bring up discipleship materials. There are always people asking for “deeper Bible study” or for a “deeper walk” with Christ. But what people mean by “depth” is not often clear. Some people think in terms of information. They want to know more facts, whether they come from history or theology. Information dump. Others think “deep” means a practical tidbit for my life tomorrow. They think in terms of immediate application. But this can turn the Bible into a self-help manual.
The gospel-centered movement has the opportunity to redefine what “depth” means. We shouldn’t see depth as “more info” or “life insights” but gospel-centrality. Going deep means we immerse ourselves in the truth that Jesus Christ bled and died to save helpless sinners like you and me. We’ve got to see the depth of our sin and the depth of God’s grace in such a way that it is clear we can do nothing to make ourselves more acceptable to God. Depth means going deeper into the gospel until it confronts the idols of our hearts.
I love it when studies/sermons to go deep into background and history (though I have a feeling most people don’t). But this snippet is a good reminder to go deeper into my personal history and background to see my deeper need for Jesus. See your sin, and see your Savior. Just make sure you realize the latter is bigger, much bigger than the former.