Thursday, September 24, 2009

Knowing for What Purpose...

When I reflect back upon the differences between my grandparents time and my own, I am reminded that my grandparents lived in a far smaller world than I do. They did not have TV with 24 hours news cycles to bring everything that happens everywhere into their living rooms. They did not travel as I travel and stayed much closer to the center of the circle of their home area than I have. They did not have a large library of books to call their own -- a library fueled by the ridiculously cheap prices and easy access of an -- as I do. They did not carry cell phones or do email or surf the Internet as I do every day.

My point is this, it is not simply that they knew less than I know, but that what they knew they knew well and their knowledge was meant for use. So much of our knowledge today is trivial and nearly all of it passive knowledge. We know about things but we seldom are called to use this knowledge for any real purpose. We know about things around the world but we are still far removed from these places and so the knowledge does not move us to action as much as it satisfies curiosity. We find out so much about things through all the electronic media available to us but what do we do with this information? Do we act upon it? Do we file it away for a someday that never comes? Do we read it only to replace its information with other stuff? Are we growing in knowledge so that we can accomplish things or do we collect information as if it were just another obscure hobby?

I am thinking in particular about Bible study and the learning about God, God's work in history, the Church, etc. It occurs to me that people can do Bible study on line, they can have it tweeted to their cell phone, they can use software designed to access every unusual word in Scripture in a moment, they have access to a library at their computer terminal, they have millions of sermons available to them at a moment... But at the same time, we struggle to find Sunday school teachers or youth group leaders or church leaders. What are people doing with all this knowledge if they are not applying it as teachers, leaders, and servers for the cause of the Gospel?

My fear? Well, my fear is that we have become rather passive about all this knowledge, about all this religious knowledge. We read it all but it does not motivate or move us. We are well informed but do not apply this information in any substantial way. We like have our curiosity satisfied but we are not so sure about taking up the mantle of teaching others what we know.

All the time I hear people say, "Oh, Pastor, I don't want to give up being in your Bible study to teach Sunday school; I would miss too much." Well, maybe yes and maybe no. As Christian people we cannot always be hearers... James reminds us that we are also to be doers. What we miss in one place learning, is made up by what we accomplish teaching.

I fear that we are raising up generations of rather selfish Christians who place self-interest above the call to serve. If that is true, we need to re-examine what we are doing. Knowledge of Scripture and the Christian faith should result in servants for the Kingdom, equipped to do God's bidding.

We live in a wonderful time when information and great materials are easily accessible to every Christian-- even among our own LC-MS we have a very promising new Lutheran study Bible, the Concordia readers edition of our Confessions, the Treasury devotional book, a new and well done hymnal, catechism resources in addition to the catechism itself... I do not mean to suggest we should not use these wonderful resources. I am wondering if we are failing to challenge, encourage, and call upon our people to use all these resources for the purpose of serving the Lord in all the various places where faith intersects with life (both in and out of the congregation)... Just some thoughts...


ErnestO said...

Obeying and submitting - we must swing into alignment behind our pastor.

Being a pastor by John Walker
Being a pastor is one of the toughest jobs on the planet; but John, says it can also be the most joyful: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4 NIV).
Spiritual leaders must correctly teach God’s Word, confront false teaching before it spreads, proclaim the gospel to non-believers, pray for all people, and train and appoint leaders; and they must do this all while serving as an example of what it looks like when you’re maturing as a Jesus-one (see 1 and 2 Timothy; Titus).
Accordingly, the apostle Paul says we should respect our spiritual leaders, overwhelming them with appreciation: “Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:13 NIV).
Paul also says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17 NIV).
You can make a big deal about obeying and submitting, but keep in mind that our overarching objective is to become one with Christ, who is one with the Father.
If a spiritual leader is walking toward oneness with Jesus, then it’s perfectly reasonable for us to move toward that same oneness with Jesus, meaning we swing into alignment behind our pastor.
From this angle, you can see the enormous responsibility a pastor has to keep in line with God and to encourage you to keep in line.
Pray for your spiritual leaders today, that they continue to walk in the truth, and let them know in some way that you want to bring them joy by “walking in the truth” with them (3 John 4 NIV).
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 4 (NIV)

Anonymous said...

Pastor Peters,
I've been reading your blog for the last few weeks, after a reference from Paul McCain awhile back, and enjoy your insights. I really appreciate today's thoughts on all this knowledge.. I struggle at times with all the access to knowledge, and yet, how much time do I devote to that which is most important... Thanks for the reminder... there's a blog that I subscribe to that's not updated all that often, but a Southern Baptist who does web design for a living, but struggles with the whole technology -- faith thing like you mentioned. I'm linking it here, you might enjoy some of his past postings, I find it hits me at times like your posting today did on how all the technology and knowledge needs to have it's balance within our lives...

A fellow brother in ministry,


Pastor Peters said...

I am still scratching my head about Ernest's comment.. I do not see anything in my words about obeying the Pastor or submitting to the Pastor... All my intent was is to ask what I think to be a relevant question -- is my knowledge leading to any application in my Christian life -- beyond appreciation -- for the goal of our lives in Christ is service -- no matter where that service takes place. Service to the glory of God, for the work of His kingdom, sharing the Gospel, living out our baptismal vocation... I don't think I said anything about obeying or submitting to the Pastor... and I don't think I implied this either...

Janis Williams said...

Trivial Bible Pursuit?

We have tons of emotional Bible Studies. Studies on how Scripture relates to me, my marriage, my kids. It all centers around "me."

If we stopped worrying about finding ourselves in Scripture/Bible Study, if we stopped trying to find that one little piece of Bible information that will impress others, if we stopped having ladies studies, men's studies, youth studies; studies about experiencing God, experiencing manhood, womanhood, you name it, there's probably a Bible study on it! If only we put Christ at the CENTER. If we'd learn that HE is who ALL of scripture is about, maybe we'd stop all this trivialization of the Word of our Lord, and as you say, apply what we learn about the work of His kingdom, and share the Gospel (Instead of having a class on HOW to share it!. Who would worry about obeying pastor, husband, etc. if only we learned to obey our Lord!

Maria said...

I do use the resources the Lord gave me to teach my family. All the hours and hours (years actually) of listening to Issues,etc. for example has given me great knowledge which I use not only when catechising my children but also in other conversations about all kind of subjects with them. Also all the books I read have equipped me well for this purpose. Unfortunatly outside the family the people I come into contact with aren't interested in the Lord nor his work nor anything related to Christianity.