Allow God's Word to transform lives as you study together.
| posted 9/24/2008
Cindy was in the Bible study I led for three years. She always answered the questions and participated in the discussion. She accumulated a lot of knowledge, but her life never changed. She lived a defeatist life, looking to unhealthy relationships with men to meet her longings, never finding anything worth living for.
I have puzzled a lot over people like Cindy. I've met quite a few over the years. It seems that some people never move beyond head knowledge to heart knowledge. There are numerous reasons for this. I'd like to identify three.
Studying the Bible to accumulate knowledge
Those who can rattle off chapter and verse but never become more like Christ may not truly believe that the God of the universe is addressing them personally. They see the Bible as an ancient document that has interesting and wise information, but they never consider that they are to apply it to their lives. This kind of person comes to the Scriptures with an analytical eye rather than by humbly asking God to transform their lives. They may take pride in mastering the text, but they don't know how to let the text master them. They want to study Jesus, but they don't really want to know him.
Coming to the Bible with arrogance
The person who is not transformed by the Word of God may come to it to prove his or her point. This person may have decided what they think or want the Bible to teach. They may have been taught such ideas as a child, been drawn to the Bible because it preserves the lifestyle they want, or because it gives them power in certain choices. This person doesn't come to the Word of God to let it transform them. Instead they use the Bible as a proof text and to gain ammunition for the battles of life. Yes, we are to fight Satan and his minions, but unless we are letting God shake the core of our lives, we won't be able to recognize the true enemy.
Reading the Bible through our baggage
My friend Cindy's biggest problem was that she really couldn't believe that God would bring her happiness. Because she'd already decided God was a killjoy, she didn't trust him with her life. Therefore, she came to Bible study because she wanted friendship, not because she wanted to be transformed by God. In her mind, it was all up to her. She always thought she'd find the perfect human relationship that would meet all her needs. Until she truly believed that God was her only hope for joy and fulfillment, she would never be able to believe a word he said.
So how can we help those in our Bible studies move beyond these problems? First we have to make sure we are not stuck in one of these modes. If we are, we will never be able to help others move beyond them. For those of us who have been in the church a long time, it's easy to fall into one of these patterns, especially accumulating knowledge and coming to the Bible with arrogance. Or perhaps we have become a Bible study leader because it meets our need for fellowship or power. Therefore we need to begin by checking our own motives.