Monday, March 19, 2012

Paper Christians

We Christians can spend a lot of time studying. We study the Bible regularly -- whether it is daily or weekly. We go to Bible studies. We listen to sermons. We read about God, sometimes write about God or teach about God. I have nothing against any of that. But the word of God can be a dormant seed inside us at that stage. We're at risk -- especially those of us who are bookish -- for mistaking the study of our faith for the faith itself. You've heard of paper tigers; we have a risk of becoming paper Christians.

Study has a rightful place within our faith. Still, if I studied basketball and could pass a written test with top scores, that doesn't mean I'd have a place on a pro team. It doesn't even mean I could make a free throw, or score on the court rather than just on paper.
  • We learn and teach about community. But do we make friends, and build traditions with our families? Do we know our neighbors? Do we have a reputation for hospitality?
  • We learn and teach about forgiveness. But do we forgive? Are we known for being kind?
  • We learn and teach about reconciliation. But do we reconcile with family members? Are there any people that, by unspoken agreement, we avoid each other -- or do we clear the air?
  • We learn and teach about faith and hope. But do we encourage faith and hope to grow by looking at God's faithfulness and God's promises?
  • We learn and teach about love. But how much time do we spend increasing our love by thinking about the goodness in someone else? How often do we remember the kindnesses someone has shown us?

If someone studies law, we expect them to practice law. If someone studies medicine, we expect them to practice medicine. If someone studies teaching, or plumbing, or any other useful thing, we expect them to practice it. This kind of learning is life-long; that's why there are continuing education programs for most jobs. And our churches are continuing education programs, in a sense. But if the Word of God is living and active, then it calls us to be living and active.

3 comments:

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Good points. I've often said that I have a master's degree in Quilting, if you just went by what I've read about, but a junior high level skill set.
With our Biblical and Faith learning, I think that sometimes we learn by reading, sometimes by hearing, sometimes by seeing/observing, and sometimes by prayer/listening. Sooner or later, some of these lessons begin to sink in with most of us. We can only hope to FOLLOW with the Lord's help, not just hear and pray.

Martin LaBar said...

A great post for "March Madness." (Or any time.)

Thanks.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi PS

I've seen some of your artwork when you've posted it. I think you do yourself a little bit better than junior high. :) I wrote this mostly because I needed to think about it, though. I tend to get lost in books, if I'm not careful.

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Hi Martin

I started using basketball examples because my Sunday school class at the time was so full of basketball players. But, since it's March, let me say: I hope UK or Louisville goes all the way. :)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF