Posted by: tucsonjefe | August 7, 2007

It Matters What We Believe

A few weeks ago we were in Mexico City for another session of  Bible school classes.  One afternoon, we were reviewing some of the homework from the last session.  This is early in the course, so it is not unusual for some students to struggle, but what strikes me is what they struggle with.  In every setting we have the same problems in the early going.  The issues are always around questions that begin with things like, “explain,” “discuss,” “what do you think…?” or ”why do you think..?”  The problem is rarely in regurgitating information.  That is what most folks think of when they do homework.  It seems to me that if all we do is ask people to repeat information, we have done a mighty poor job of education.  Given time and inclination I can teach a parrot the sinner’s prayer. What I can’t teach him is how to lead an unbeliever into relationship with Christ.  We have certain factual and doctrinal truths that are obvious in Scripture, required for salvation, and non-negotiable.  We want our students to know these things.  But I want so much more than that.

One of the things that separates real churches from the pseudo-Christian cults is the capacity of the believer to think and to hear God for himself.  Knowing information for a test is not the same as applying information to life’s circumstances. If my students can’t do that, then I have failed them.  That is why we hammer on “explain!” “why?” and “so what.?”  Two abilities are absolutely necessary to being educated and becoming effective in ministry.  First, I have to be able to explain to others not just what I believe, but why I believe it.  Peter said, “And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15b NLT)  But to  really be effective I have to grow in the Christ-like capacity to identify with those to whom I am sent.  The essence of Jesus’ ministry was that He became like one of us and was in all points tempted like as we are.  One of the cornerstones of ministry is the ability to understand another’s thinking without embracing it or condemning them for thinking that way.  This is the essence of compassion, the goal of education, and indispensable to living in love.

Scripture Reading: Therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters so that he could be merciful. He became like them so that he could serve as a faithful chief priest in God’s presence and make peace with God for their sins.  (Hebrews 2:17 GW) 

Somebody Said:   “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle 

The capacity to think abstractly separates us from the animals.  It enables us to imagine, to propose, and to postulate.  It gives us the capacity for empathy without identical experience.  It is the doorway into freedom from self.  It is worth the trouble      vls

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