Our movement loves information…we teach until we are blue in the face. Information is king…if you know the right things and believe all the right things then all is well. What you do with that information is inconsequential…just make sure you have the right belief system and we’ll leave you alone.
We love the red letters more than the black letters…the red letters are what Jesus said. The black letters are what Jesus did. In order to get the whole Gospel you have to have both. In order to teach the whole Gospel you have to have both. In order to live a Gospel-shaped life both are required.
We need churches to emphasize both the teachings of Jesus and the doings of Jesus. That means our teaching has to transition from pure information to information presented in an equipping fashion. It is one thing to know the facts about the human heart and quite another for a surgeon to learn how to put one back together and actually do it…the second is equipping or training. So we still need information but we need that information presented in a manner that leads to and prepares people for Gospel-informed, Christ-centered action.
When we teach a bible story in children’s ministry, we always try to hit three levels: Know what? (Facts of the story), So what? (Why did Jesus tell that story/why is it in the Bible?), and finally Now what? (How will I live differently tomorrow because I learned this today?). This approach has helped me more than it has helped them, I’m sure. I hope it puts the word a little more deeply into their hearts than their heads.
Jennifer, that is a GREAT approach!
It is similar to (but maybe better than) the Great Books of the Western World discussion group instructions. They ask: What does the passage say? What did the author mean by what he said? What significance does this have for us today.
People want to jump to level 3 without working through the first 2 levels – both in Great Books Discussion groups – and in Adult Bible Classes. The result is usually a pooling of ignorance and no growth.
Are the red letters loved more than the black? I always thought the writings of Paul were far more cherished than the words of Jesus. I would have loved to hear “written in AD 40 to the people at Ephesus who were dealing with problems such as….” This was left out in exchange for 4 more unrelated verses taken out of context.
To be honest, I believe when it comes to issues such as caring for the poor (which includes giving to those who beg from us), our attitude toward those seen as “sinners”, and race relations, Jesus’ words and actions are often ignored. I have sat in more than a few Bible classes when passages covering these teachings were read, only to have most of the class explaining them away, “But Jesus did not mean…..!”
Not long ago there was a video being shared on Facebook, by some who are Christians, of a person who was begging on the street who turned out to be a fraud. I recall one Christian who shared the video commenting, “This is why I don’t give to beggars”.
I guess if a Christian’s culture and politics are threatened, it does’t take much to trump the words and life of Jesus; while those who are in “sympathy” with them coming to their defense with, “Well, we have to understand…”
I agree with Mark and John. In my experience, it seems that many Christians with whom I have been acquainted operate on a volume principle: Paul wrote more of the New Testament than anyone else, therefore, his words in black letters must have more value than the paltry few in red. I was talking with an agnostic friend once who told me that we should change our name to the Church of Paul, since he had sensed in his dealings with members of the churches of Christ that there was far more emphasis placed on Paul’s teachings than any other.