I appreciated these comments from Dave Black today:
I’ve noticed something as we travel from church to church. It’s so easy for people to think they are unqualified for “missionary” work. “I could never go to Ethiopia!” My feeling is that if God can use lazy old me, He can use anybody who is willing to do the work. Living in the “How could God ever use little ol’ me?” frame of mind enslaves us. I used to think that way myself, especially in my early teens. Thank God He changed all that. And just think — now I get to spend my time with people who love Ethiopia nearly as much as I do. The kicker is that none of us is even remotely a trained professional. (God has a sense of humor.) We’re just trying to be good Jesus-followers. During my leisure time I’ve been re-reading At Dawn We Slept, which is a really amazing book, not so much because it recounts the attack on Pearl Harbor but because of its description of our unpreparedness on that fatal day to see what was coming. Unpreparedness is one of those things that’s hard to deal with. You think you know what’s going on in your life, you think you’re ready for anything, and then — kaplow! — your whole world blows up in your face. Sometimes I think to myself, “What slothful things am I doing right now in my life that are robbing me of my effectiveness to serve Jesus?” I am roiled to think of the situations sometimes I’ve allowed myself to get into because of myopia. The fact that our Pacific Fleet returned to harbor every weekend came as a shock to the Japanese. Yamamoto wondered in awe, “What Navy on the verge of war would maintain such a predictable schedule?” So when 350 Japanese airplanes arrived at Oahu on that quiet Sunday morning, they found the fleet right where it had always been on the weekends and in a perfect state of mind to be attacked: sound asleep.
This is true – anyone can be a missionary – even little ‘ol ordinary you! The question is, what are we doing at the moment to be ready for God to uses us in whatever way he wishes? I think even Paul calls us to be in a state of readiness to be used by the Lord.
History, I’m told, is the great ironist. And the culminating irony about history is that we learn so little from it. I’m convinced this has something to say to our generation that seems to be distracted by what Rick Hertzberg and others have called “Christianism” — a rigid and unthinking religion motivated more by the status quo than active faith. I read somewhere that half of Americans believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife and that the Bible says, “God helps those who help themselves.” All this in a supposedly Christian nation. We live in a society in which Christians can sign up for aerobics classes called “Firm Believers” or read Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now as if it were the Bible. I’m even worried about my Greek class. Even though I don’t promote the course as a “self-help” class, the focus is often still on “me” — learning Greek so that I can read my New Testament in the original language — when Jesus wants us to focus on others. I live and work in the so-called Bible Belt. We’re all good, church-going folk. But when it comes to the Bible, our knowledge quotient is abysmal, and our obedience quotient is even worse. You say, “Wait a minute. Abortion rates are lower in the Bible Belt than in the rest of the nation.” True. But divorce rates are 50 percent higher. (I intend no disparagement. The sin of divorce is no greater than any of our other sins in the Bible Belt.) The problem we face is the gap between knowledge and obedience. Admittedly, I enjoy teaching the Bible and Greek. But frankly I’m scared to death of the possible outcome. It’s spelled SELF. The only legitimate outcome in God’s eyes are great good deeds of love, deeds rooted in the plain teaching of the Scriptures. If Greek can help us to do this, Amen. But I’m still a worried man. Knowing Greek won’t necessarily help us to “Re-Jesus” the church, which is what we really need.
This one is thought provoking. I think it could be related to my last post (sort of) in that we read a lot and we know a lot but how much does that reading and knowing lead us to a deeper relationship with the Lord and with others? Unlike the riches obtained by speculators and miners of the 1849 Gold rush – the riches we mine from the Word of God are not to be kept to ourselves – they are meant to be given a way and used to bless others. If we are learning the biblical languages – why, what for? if we devour theology books and books on biblical studies, why? what for? Certainly some things to think about.