Our family moved to Germany in 1974 to be missionaries. Shortly after we were settled into our new home I spent 4 days a week at the Goethe Institute studying German. Within a few short weeks I preached (read by manuscript) my first sermon in German.
As I reflect on those two very different experiences in learning a new language I see a parallel as it pertains to Bible study. Like many of you I grew up going to church and attending Bible classes. We were there every time the doors were open so I heard a lot of Bible being taught. But I can’t tell you that I really knew or understood a lot of what I was taught.
When I got out of the army I worked for an aircraft construction company. I worked closely with two guys who professed to be Christians. Both of them lived like the Devil throughout the week but never missed attending church on Sunday. I began to discuss the scriptures with them. They would make an argument and I would go home and study to prepare to respond the next day at work. I was doing a lot of Bible Study. But I was studying the Bible with a specific purpose. Bible study became an adventure and I could not get enough.
How many of you can relate to sitting on a plane and listening to the instructions from the cabin personnel about the seat belt and the flotation devise under your seat. You “heard” what was said, but did you really pay attention? Why not? Because you did not expect to be in an emergency landing or crash over water where you would really need this information.
The moral of the story? We learn more and pay attention to what we hear when there is reason or need to do so.
Can you imagine how exciting it would be for Christians if they understood their vocation as disciples as not that dissimilar from their heroes they read about in the Scriptures. What if they could see themselves as a part of the continuing story being written today? Instead of Biblical truths going in one ear and out the other, Bible Study would be seen as preparation for their mission. What if they saw themselves as a part of an incredible adventure with other Christians and learning was critical to the success of that mission.
If you have ever taught a Bible class you understand that the one who gained the most was you…the teacher. Why? You were learning with a purpose.
Unused truth is often lost truth. How many times have we heard, “Use it or lose it!” So let me encourage you to put yourself in a challenging situation. Deliberately put yourself in a place where you need to know and allow yourself to be motivated to learn with purpose. You will be so glad you did.