I like to read, study and learn. I struggle to find the time I’d really like to spend on it, but I try. And when I do, I thoroughly enjoy sitting with a book or article (Bible or otherwise), whether for purposes of following a narrative, taking in new information or evaluating various views on a given topic. Before you groan to yourself (perhaps some of you already are), I also know this view is not shared by everyone. Reading can seem boring and studying tedious—just ask my kids when the Nintendo® Switch is up and running.
Whatever camp you’re in, it does seem there is an assumption in Christian circles that those who are really growing in their faith are simply those who “study” more—Bible study and/or other Christian books. If we are not careful, this quickly creates the perception that discipleship is an academic exercise—the gaining of knowledge and, well, little more. After all, as the Psalmist says:
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
Psalm 119:97-99. Does this mean the more we learn about God, the more we know God? Not at all. In fact, one of the great dangers of the Christian life is to believe precisely that. Doing so causes us to rest on our knowledge of God as opposed to growing in our relationship with God. As so often is the case with Scripture, we need to keep reading to get the full picture (I know, more reading). Look at the next verses:
I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:100–104. The reason for studying God’s Word and knowing about Him is so that we love, follow and are closer to Him. Knowledge is not the end, but the beginning of loving and following God. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8. Please don’t misunderstand me, God gives us the amazing gifts of His Word and its teachers to help us learn and we should make use of those precious gifts regularly. But, the purpose of those gifts, is to train and equip us to take action for the Lord.
At NAPC, we want to build a culture of discipleship, not a system of scholarship. We don’t learn for the sake of learning, but for the sake of loving—loving God and loving people more each day.
At NAPC, we want to build a culture of discipleship, not a system of scholarship. We don’t learn for the sake of learning, but for the sake of loving—loving God and loving people more each day. That is the “action” to which we are called, and that is what growing as a disciple of Jesus is all about.
This Winter/Spring, we are pushing our discipleship ministries in this direction and we ask that you join us. Whether you consider yourself a student/reader or not, God calls you to put your knowledge of Him into action for His glory and your joy.
Join with us in as we not only learn more, but are challenged to take steps to love more. Through those efforts, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may NAPC continue to glorify God through lives changed by Jesus Christ!