Monday, February 10, 2014

The Bible Know-It-All

"So, is it a good thing or a bad thing when you know all the answers in Bible class?" my eldest asked me.

After a fleeting moment of pride at my daughter's brilliance, I consider countering with, "Maybe the question should be, is it a good thing or a bad thing when you think you know all the answers in Bible class?"

But I didn't, partly because I'm trying to learn not to shut off valuable discussions with my ill-timed sarcasm, and partly because I know where she's coming from. She has not only been raised "in the church", which means a plethora of Sunday School classes, Vacation Bible Schools, youth evangelism rallies, and what all . . . but she was homeschooled by a Christian mama who thought it important that her kids knew The Book thoroughly. She's heard a lot of sermons -- listened to a lot of Christian radio -- asked a lot of questions and gotten a lot of answers.  She's a mini-me, in a sense.

Her point was, in her Bible class at school, when they have days where they are just supposed to bring up questions to discuss, things that trouble them or that they wonder about, she doesn't have much to bring up.  And the stuff that gets brought up, she doesn't find troubling. If she thinks about it long enough, she knows the answer . . . or she at least knows what the Bible teacher is going to say about it.

This has been an issue with Hubby over the years. Finding a Sunday School class or Bible study or small group that satisfies him is a challenge. It all seems old hat.  Been there, heard that, did the exegesis. "There is nothing new under the sun," as the Preacher said. As I've written about before, when you've heard this stuff from toddlerhood, even something as phenomenal and radical as God becoming man and rising from the dead loses its wonder.

So, yeah . . . I knew where she was coming from. We're supposed to be in the Word, constantly learning, but what if you don't feel like you're learning anything?

That's where the old James passage comes in, I think.  "Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only." (Get over the old English . . . I will forever have that in my head in the King James.)  This has been where God as convicted me a lot in the last several years. Sure, I know a lot.  I mean, I know a whole lot to be really frank. The question is not what I know; the question is what difference has it made.

I know all about the nature and attributes of God -- his sovereignty, his omniscience, his omnipotence, his everlasting love -- but has that stopped me from worrying about my future?

I know all about idolatry and the modern manifestations of it and the great effront it is to the Almighty -- but has that stopped me from setting food up on a pedestal as the Great Comforter in my life?

I know the second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself -- and that "my neighbor" can be defined as anyone out there in need -- but has that led me to seek out the hungry and the homeless and the hurting to show them love?

Yeah . . . who really cares what I know. I live like an ignorant heathen.

One thing I like about Bible Study Fellowship: they always push you to application. "What does this passage teach you about prayer, and how does that change your own prayer life?" "When have you behaved like the Pharisees in this passage, and what will you do differently now?"  "What have you learned from this chapter this week, and how have you applied that to your life?

So, that's what I told my daughter . . . what I try to tell myself . . . what I'm trying to say to you, my faithful reader. Shut up with your arrogant "yeah-yeah-I-know-all-that-already". Are you living it? Do you look different than the world because of your living it? Are you closer to God and more like Christ because of your living it?

May we be livers of the Word, and not knowers only.

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