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Monday, August 6, 2012


A couple of years ago I had the privilege to be in a Bible study with an older war veteran, lets call him Bob.  He was a resident in a retirement complex in the city in which I live.  We had completed an investigative study in John and had moved on to a study that required some prep, which involved reading some verses and answering some questions on that verse.  During the discussion on the study we followed my typical process, which consists of asking questions to expand the observations and understanding of those in the study.
If we do not stop spoon feeding people, they will never grow, in fact they loose the ability to do so.
After two or three weeks of this Bob stopped me in mid question one evening and said, "You are the teacher.  You need to stop asking questions and just tell me what I am supposed to get out of this."  After I climbed back into my chair we talked about the role of the Holy Spirit and our responsibility to interact with the Word ourselves.

In the weeks that followed I could not get that event out of my mind, still can't.  Bob has been a believer, involved in churches both in worship and in Sunday schools for somewhere around 60 - 70 years.  He has set under multiple pastors, teachers, and is currently watching several "teachers" on television.  His experience with all of those teachers and preachers was to be told what he was supposed to think about the passages they were sharing.  In his experience I was the only one that had asked him to interact with the passage and to think and exercise his gifts and to have the Spirit show him what the Word said.  When I did that, he did not know how to respond.  He had been trained over 60 - 70 years that he was supposed to be told what to believe.

Since he had not been asked to use either the gifts or leading of the Holy Spirit in his pursuit of truth, his ability to do that had atrophied.  Made me mad.  Still makes me mad.  It is spiritual malpractice, bordering on abuse to not engage people in learning to dig into the Word for themselves.  If we raised our children continually feeding them and not teaching them to feed themselves, we may have to answer to DHS, at least we would stunt their development as adults.  Equipping our kids and others that God has brought into our orbit is the role that the Spirit lays out for pastors and teachers in Ephesians 4:11 - 16, among many other places.  We are also told in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 that the purpose of the gifts we are given is to build up the body.  We will not have to answer to DHS for this but to God.

1 comment:

  1. We Americans are carefully formed consumers, of everything - including spiritual "truth" (or not). The great majority of so-called Bible studies I've been around in the last 50 or so years were in reality Bible teaching/preaching sessions. And I will admit for nearly ten of those years I hungered and welcomed such an approach.

    But I eventually realized that there was something else, a much deeper need in my life than pablum and strained carrots. I needed meat, and that could only come from personal participation in the process - my own personal study with interaction with and obedience to the Holy Spirit (gasp!).

    The inspired writer of Hebrews (5:11-14) uses the metaphor of milk vs. solid meat. Milk is very good - for time. But that time passes with the greater need of solid food. In this context, maturity is characterized as senses trained to discern good and evil. I can't see how that can be possible without my own participation in the process and learning how to listen to the Holy Spirit, then working to work out the applications in my own life. I can not reliably build my life on someone else's convictions! I can learn from others, but Jesus is my Shepherd and wants to lead me; I need to learn His voice to build my convictions (John 10:2-5.

    What a privilege and joy it is to hear the Spirit's quiet voice, and to see others suddenly discover for themselves that God is personal, the Spirit is intensively active!

    You are raising a powerful point, Mike. I hope it creates some discussion.