The problem in the American church isn’t a lack of knowledge. People here know the facts. They know Jesus died and rose again and is supposedly seated with his Father in heaven. They know Christians are supposed to evangelize and share their faith. They know they should pray, read their Bible, and serve more. They know enough. The problem is that there is almost no using of what is known.
One of the best things you could do, Christian and church leader, is stop your Bible studying. Stop getting together with the same ten people each week to plod through chapter after chapter of text, getting to know the minutae of what it means but barely putting that truth to the test in your life. Unless your Sunday school class is making visible changes in the lives of those attending and seeing people go out to disciple others in the truths they’re learning, it would be better to spend your time elsewhere. More knowledge doesn’t do anything beyond bring greater condemnation if it isn’t responded to rightly (John 15:22-24).
There’s an amazing story in the Gospels about Jesus’ encounter with a man who was possessed by a legion of demons. He lived naked and unclean, howling among the tombs of the Gerasenes shoreline. Jesus, in his straightforward and powerful way, casts the demons out of the man, The people from the nearby city (presumably where this man was from) come out in terror and awe when they hear what happened and ask Jesus to leave.
Here’s where the story goes against the way we’ve functioned as Christians for the past couple hundred years. The man asks Jesus if he can go with him – if he can become Jesus’ disciple and follow him around, learning from him and studying his ways, walking by his side and getting to know him better, being a part of Jesus’ posse. Amazingly, Jesus tells him no. Jesus tells the man that he doesn’t need to learn more about him; they don’t need to spend more time together, he doesn’t need to have more training. Instead, Jesus tells the man, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8:39)
One encounter with Jesus gives this guy enough training to be the only missionary to his native people group. How contrary this is to our systems of Christian education that imply people need a set number of classes and toBible read-throughs before they’ll be able to accurately “present the Gospel.” Jesus spends what, perhaps a few hours with this man, and sends him out as his sole witness to the surrounding cities? Would we be comfortable with doing that? Do we trust that the Holy Spirit can work with the simple story of “how much God has done for you”?
Two nights ago was my final night of meeting regularly with four other guys from within my Threshingfloor community. We’ve been meeting since last August, and have spent countless hours together praying and digging into God’s word. We’ve done Bible study. It was good and, as we recounted last night, God has taught us all things we very much needed to know. It was good, but I believe that ending our Bible study was the best thing that we could have done. We’ll get back together occasionally, but as of last night we’re all officially launching outward in teams with the aim of declaring how much our King has done for us to the people He has placed us near.
These guys know their stuff. They also have tons to learn, just like I do. But they get the core truths of the Gospel and have seen Jesus work in their lives. It’s time to stop the studying and start working to test and prove that the truths that we believe actually work in the real world. That’s where learning will truly take root and the scriptures will be the rich food that we desperately need, because like the hard working farmer, soldier, and athlete talked about in 2 Timothy 2, our labor leaves us in need of our Lord and leader Jesus Christ.
Stop your Bible study. Follow Jesus and start laboring in the harvest field.