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Monday, April 15, 2013

Homework

A while back in a workshop I was conducting one of the participants made an offhand comment that they did not do homework when we were reviewing the assignment from the previous week.  In the midst of the workshop I did not choose to respond.  Time did not allow me to ask questions, so all of my response was based on my understanding, which may be erroneous, of what this person meant…
What do you say to someone who does not see the need to do Bible study on their own?
First let me state that the purpose of Bible study is not primarily knowledge.  That is knowledge in the sense of what facts are presented, what date some event took place, what prophets spoke to which nation at what time, or what sequence of events happened in Habakkuk.  John 5:39 – 40 tells us that the purpose of searching the Scripture, study, is to know Christ.  So, on the one hand if this individual viewed the things I was asking them to do as anything other than a means of knowing Christ, I would support their statement.  But based on the content and context of the remark, that probably was not the case.

It has been stated many times here that studying the Bible is not just a good idea for believers, it is essential.  1 Peter 2:2, 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17; Hebrews 5:11 – 14; Acts 17:11, and many more passages speak to this directly.  As believers we are expected to study Scripture.  That does not mean that we are to read a book that someone wrote about the Bible or that our study should consist wholly of prepackaged, guided, fill in the blank studies.  The expectation is that we deal directly with the Word of God.  That takes work.  That takes practice.  Like any other skill we develop in our lives, it is something at which we have to work if we wish to get better.  Further, like any other skill, the initial attempts will be clumsy and possibly error prone.  It is only as we continue to press through that clumsy phase that we begin to gain confidence and skill.  It is through practice that happens.  It does not happen by osmosis.

My wife and I have four children and an increasing number of grandchildren.  We watched all of the kids and one of the grand-kids learn to walk.  The process – you know this – was nominally the same for all of them.  There was figuring out how to get up on your hands and knees.  Learning how to crawl.  Figuring out how to stand.  Taking a step and planting one’s face in the carpet.  Negotiating huge obstacles like the threshold of the door, etc.  All those were hard.  All of those steps were liberally peppered with failure in the form of falls.  Cuts, bruises, busted lips, stitches, crying, you know the drill.  What if after the first couple of tries, one of them decided this just is not worth the effort.  I would rather lie here and let others take care of me.  No chance of falling, no more bruises, no more stitches…  That would not be normal.  As parents we would help motivate them to walk.

That is what “homework” is.  It is practice.  If we do not continue to stretch ourselves, if we do not continue to learn more about Christ in His Word, we are much like that child who decided it was just too much trouble to learn to walk.  Forever dependent on others to carry us from point to point in our Christian lives.  Hoping they are going in the right direction.

We need to do the homework.  We need to learn to walk.

2 comments:

  1. Michael, this was an excellent post. As a pastor I have encountered many people in the church (always men) who avoid any Bible study class or group that requires homework. One of my prayers for the men in my congregation has been that the Lord would place within their hearts an insatiable hunger for His Word. The kind of hunger that causes them to make personal study not just a priority, but a passion! Only He can do that. Thanks for your insights.

    Ben

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