Christian, are you perfectly happy to receive and digest the world’s instruction, but glaze over when the guy behind the pulpit is talking?
Are you comfortable with how you handle life? Are you satisfied with the way you make decisions, and how you interact with people? I am at times. Yet I should never be, nor should you. God’s Word has plenty to say about this concept; you might call it complacency, or the seasons of a believer’s life in which he/she puts minimal to no effort into walking in God’s ways, responding to Scripture, becoming more like Jesus Christ. The Christian should instead, as Proverbs 1:5 states, have an insatiable appetite to learn Christ and apply His teaching. What attitude, what approach has characterized you lately?
Our churches need to be filled with teachable Christians. There are enough hypocrites; Christ wants real disciples. If the representatives of our generation will ultimately hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”, then we need to be consistently dissatisfied with the status quo of our hearts, of our lives. The church-goer that typically glazes over, having a “Yeah, great… is it time for lunch yet?” way of thinking on Sunday isn’t headed in the right direction spiritually. The same for those who often daydream while reading the Word, praying, or fellowshiping. Sound harsh? Well, I’ve said nothing that the Bible doesn’t already teach. I also wouldn’t be so bold if said ways hadn’t been the theme of my own life for many years. Instead we must invite God’s Word to examine our hearts, to test our attitudes and motives (Psalm 139:23-24; James 1:21-25). We must submit to God’s sole authority to decide the biblical quality of our lives. This doesn’t mean we ought to mentally crumble because we’re not significantly more godly day after day, but it is crucial to never give up the fight. The enemy does not; we can not. And to be clear, this isn’t about gaining merit before God at all, but simply obeying the biblical mandate to pursue greater Christ-likeness (enabled by grace). It’s all about what’s informing the daily choices we make.
We as natural sinners have a deeply-ingrained desire to stagnate, to not want to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) simply because it’s easier to waft in the breeze. We believe we know best, only to act shocked… possibly panic, when God tests us by sending even the slightest adversity our way, failing to remember that adversity is designed to make us more like Jesus.
Yet what we must be is eager to hear the Word of God and passionate to respond in faith and obedience. God has given the Bible and appointed our spiritual shepherds to teach us to be more like the Savior. Spending time in Scripture and listening to the man behind the pulpit of your local fellowship is always more important, more valuable than playing video games, watching sports, or chowing down on a great meal. Those things, while not inherently wrong, do not eternally profit; only the Bible and a relationship with its Author and His people do (II Timothy 3:16-17). Chances are if you’re more like the unsaved than the One Who died for your justification, or if the unsaved would be dumbfounded to learn you’re a Christian, that you aren’t exhibiting a teachable spirit. And please don’t take this as my singling out your heart with a magnifying glass; I certainly have regular growing to do in this area.
What kind of testimony are we living in light of the fact that we usually don’t resist much when the world wishes to impart to us its knowledge, but our minds drift when in the presence of instruction that’s pertinent to learning Christ? Truth: God is much less concerned about what we know about the world than the knowledge we have that’s pertinent to eternity. He wants disciples that will be increasingly like Him and share how that can be so with others. But that will only happen if we are learning ourselves first!!
When we shift into what Jerry Bridges calls “cruise-control obedience“, we need to return to Romans 6, where Paul teaches that it’s anti-biblical to suggest that it’s acceptable for the believer to live in habitual sin. When we’re tempted to want to amount to something in this world, to experience pleasure at all costs… perhaps we’ve forgotten or even disregarded the goal of the believer and eternity yet to come? Let’s not forget that this world is temporary, and utterly unable to satisfy. The world’s system is always at odds with God’s will, and will ultimately be destroyed. Which side are we learning from?
If nothing else, ponder this. The Son of God said that He and His kingdom are not of this world (John 18:36). That means His followers bear the same distinction. Yet if we aren’t eager to be at His feet (think Mary/Martha) or desirous to be more like Him (i.e. aren’t teachable), then we will be more like the world, less like a member of the coming kingdom, and less pleasing to God. Our lives will inevitably suffer as a result. Every day we either become more worldly or more like Christ. Yes, God is ultimately satisfied in us because He is satisfied with Christ. Yes, grace is greater than all our sin, but God intends for His grace to lead us to repentance, to teach us how to be like Jesus (Romans 2:4). He won’t force us however to receive that teaching, to be teachable. We must choose to be that way, and to choose not to be is disobedience. This should not be tolerable in the heart of a true disciple.
Which is more appealing, more biblical? Which would God have us desire? The pursuits of this sinful world that promise satisfaction and never deliver (Romans 6:21), or the rich blessings He promises to those who obey His will? It’s clear, God wants Proverbs 1:5 (even Acts 17:11) disciples that crave His Word, and truly desire to obey it. If this isn’t the pattern of your life, ask your heavenly Father for help, as I must. Let’s all be Proverbs 1:5 disciples. Never stop learning; never cease applying.
How about you? Have you found yourself on the wrong side of this issue? Has the Word of God grabbed a hold of you lately? What are you learning?