Have you noticed that many of our churches have turned into extended Bible conferences, places where we love to sit and soak in the Word like sponges instead of being challenged and given opportunities to launch ourselves out into the world?
Don’t get me wrong, the church is the right place to learn how to walk intimately with Christ, but it’s far more than that. Paul instructed the Ephesians that Christ gave the church gifted apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service” (Ephesians 4:12). There it is, right there: soaking and then launching—learning to become dedicated workers and actively engaged servants.
So where did we get the idea that the goal of those in the family of faith is simply absorbing more information? Put bluntly, since when do we equate spirituality with a numb posterior?
Now wait. Don’t jump to the conclusion that I’m questioning the value of meeting together for teaching. Some of the most helpful and meaningful times in my life have taken place in a gathering of believers. But when I review our Lord’s style of instruction, I cannot help but see how different it is from ours. He never suggested that the Twelve write anything down or repeat His words verbatim. And when He did exhort them, He used simple words, vivid illustrations, everyday examples, and easily understood applications—always prompting them to action.
Words. Words. Words. We have become “too wordy” in our faith, which explains our excessive interest in having more meetings and gaining more knowledge. When did we get the idea that more information leads to deeper commitment to live the words out?
Jesus’s strongest critics, the Pharisees, were great on loud, dogmatic commands, lengthy requirements, and drawn-out demands. Oh, how they loved the sound of their own words! But when it came to doing, they struck out.
James exhorts us to be “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). In other words, don’t talk compassion; lend a hand. Don’t pound a pulpit about generosity; give. Just do it.
We won’t be met at the portals of heaven by some angel with a clipboard who gives us a pop test on biblical knowledge. But while we’re on the earth, there is a question we do need to answer: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Several years ago I came across an eloquent, but nevertheless convicting, piece titled “The Lesson.”
Then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain and gathering them around him, he taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; Blessed are the meek; Blessed are they that mourn; Blessed are the merciful; Blessed are they who thirst for justice; Blessed are you when persecuted; Blessed are you when you suffer; Be glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven.
Then Simon Peter said . . .
Do we have to write this down?
And Andrew said . . .
Are we supposed to know this?
And James said . . .
Will we have a test on this?
And Philip said . . .
I don’t have any paper.
And Bartholomew said . . .
Do we have to turn this in?
And John said . . .
The other disciples didn’t have to learn this.
And Matthew said . . .
Can I go to the boys’ room?
And Judas said . . .
What does this have to do with real life?
And Jesus wept.
Sometimes I think I can still hear Him weeping.
This isn’t what Jesus had in mind for His disciples. Jesus wants us to do what He commands.
To help you along the journey to application, Insight for Living Ministries produces original and practical resources, designed to encourage you to live out your faith right where you are.
After all, it’s time for us to stop merely soaking in information and start squeezing what we know out into the world. They need to hear it. They need to see it. We need to do it.
And that’s sure to bring a smile to Jesus’s face.