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Feb
01

G2g: Information

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Key principle #3 for moving discipleship from great to good: Celebrate learning and knowledge as both the process and the goal of discipleship.

good
G2gWhen pursuing good discipleship, it is helpful for the individual and the church to focus on learning as at least a primary objective. The number of Bible studies one has completed, books read, speakers listened to, and conferences attended can all be indicators of how well a person is coming along in their discipleship process. More advanced discipleship in the vein of the good may include: committing to memory arguments in apologetics, learning the beliefs of other religions, memorizing Scripture, pursuing some level of proficiency in systematic theology, etc.

Celebrations of the good seem to be effective when helping people understand they have graduated from some level of study through acknowledging their course completion publicly, presenting an object such as a certificate or a t-shirt, graduating from a course of study, etc. Stratifying disciples in levels of learning may help a group know that they still have a ways to go to become more discipled–to attain the good. For example if a person is sitting in a beginner’s course or a 101 level, he may look with a holy anticipation and inspiration at the people in the 301 and 401 levels. Press on.

The church can employ phrases to help celebrate and motivate disciples to learn the latest requisite information. Phrases worth consideration that may advance this motif could include being a “life-long learner” or talking about our quest as a journey “to know Him.” When emphasizing the data acquisition that is necessary to know more about Christ, these phrases may be helpful to achieve no better than the level of good.

Great
Frankly, I don’t think Jesus excelled at putting together programs of curriculum. I can only remember reading of one pop quiz that He gave His followers. While verbally, Peter passes the test, his actions soon after show that he had not fully embraced the truth.

Instead of emphasizing information acquisition, Jesus talked about salt being salty and light having the properties and effects of light. He spoke about and lived a life of action. He shared that, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (Jn 5). This was discipleship that was no less than great.

Jesus’ method of discipleship seems to have stuck pretty well with his disciples as they did a whole lot of Jesus-like actions after He returned to heaven. We find them writing about the same ideas. James puts it succinctly in his letter that we are not to be people who just hear the Bible, but we are to live it.

too much?
Thom Wolf states that in the West, “we are educated beyond our obedience.” In places where God is moving in miraculous ways around the world, there is usually (I am not currently aware of an exception) a large number of new believers that are playing integral roles in networks such as church-planters and leaders whether officially or unofficially. New believers that learn one thing and obey it fully are more obedient than seasoned believers that know 10 things and obey 7 of them. Also, the disciple that has just learned and obeyed one thing is then able to share this with someone who has not learned and obeyed this yet. Information in this situation is vital as it directly impacts obedience. Life-long learning here is essential as it is intertwined with transformation and obedience.

(In the excerpts from my non-book, Great to Good (G2g), truth or satire may be employed. At times, the two may even meet.)

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Categories : Bible, discipleship

Comments

  1. Jeff says:

    We must be careful about reversing this one back to Great. If we do, we will seriously hamper the thriving economic machine that is “Christian Publishing.”
    Surely we aren’t expected to grow in discipleship without the help of Lifeway, Tyndale, Zondervan, etc.

    Wolf is right. I need to obey what I already know instead of seeking to know more (and calling that increase in knowledge, discipleship.)

  2. almost says:

    Jeff,
    Regarding your first point….(smile)
    On the second, I’m with you. I need to be faithful in doing what I already know.
    Thanks!

  3. charlie says:

    Is there a place for systematic theology in great discipleship?
    I am not sure if I am understanding the point here. It almost sounds like there is no place for scholarship in good discipleship, yet Jesus had vast knowledge of the Scriptures.
    I agree that it is easier to learn more precepts than practice community impacting Christianity, but it just sounds like you are saying that to be great is to ignore the depths of the riches of God’s wisdom as revealed in his word. I wonder.

  4. almost says:

    Charlie,

    I’m glad that you have called attention to this. You raise a great question that every person / church must address (or default is also an option). I am a fan of learning and of being a life-long learner. A cohesive, systematic theology is important. However, as you start listing the components of systematic theology, you find that Jesus addressed them in different periods of His life and ministry based on different events and situations. For example, in Luke 11 we read that Jesus was praying. Immediately after that we see that the disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. We see this often in the journey of the disciples and in other places of Scripture. Through some form of disorientation for the disciples or a new desire to learn, they became incredibly teachable. Jesus took time for teaching on the trinity and eschatology (Jn 14-16) when the disciples were all of the sudden very interested in the topics (Jn 13).

    It is not my goal to prescribe exactly what it should look like here as I see this lived out differently in various cultural contexts. However, I have seen people turn from a Christianity that was too heady for them to be able to grasp in order to have an encounter with the Savior. That is backwards at best. The lost don’t need to hear knowledge to get a glimpse of the glory of God, they need to see or experience a transformed life. Christ followers don’t need to be told how to do it and to be instructed on the importance of a specific behavior; They need to see someone who is walking it, living it out and the ramifications of a life lived that way.

    I believe strongly in Scripture memory, Bible study, reading books, etc. But these are things we do as we walk with Christ in obedience as we serve others, live incarnationally among the lost, pray for lives, families, and communiities to be transformed, etc. so that we may be equipped as we are doing it. We are not to pursue education in case obedience may ever be required at some time in the future. Academic advancement is not obedience in and of itself. We are to learn as we go.

    Thanks so much for participating here Charlie. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this and other topics.
    -almost

  5. charlie says:

    Dear almost,
    thank you for your reply…I like it. As a recovering Southern Baptist Minister I have watched us exclude Jesus for his teaching. As long as we have Sunday School (taught by folks who have been cajoled by guilt into the post with no biblical training whatsoever) we are doing our duty. blah blah blah. We can scarcely say community or incarnational let alone define it.
    thanks for helping.

  6. almost says:

    Charlie,
    I pray that God blesses you in your recovery process. Thanks for stopping by here along your journey. I believe that God has great things ahead for you and others like you that I meet as we return to Scripture and seek to rethink and live out what He calls us to.
    Thanks and blessings!
    almost

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