the weblog of Alan Knox

Learning without doing?

Posted by on Aug 3, 2007 in blog links, discipleship | 14 comments

This probably deserves an entire post, and it may come to that soon. But, for now, I want to point you again to Aussie John’s blog and his post called “The responsibility is ALWAYS Mine“. First, he discusses how some believers gave verbal and mental assent to the “one anothers” of Scripture:

The congregation were folk who agreed, with loud “amens”, to all of the principles of the Scriptural “one anothers”. They would discuss how these principles could be practically put in practice, and had good suggestions for their fellows to exercise love, support, encourage, etc.

But, what happened when a sister in Christ was struggling with health problems? This is what their sister said:

One day I received a phone call from Hazel. She said, “John, I’m confused. I’ve been a member of this congregation for a long time. Whenever help was needed I was always glad to do what I could. In these past four months I have been desperately in need of help, and I’ve received it abundantly, but only from my unbelieving neighbors, whom my brethren at church despise. Not one member of the church, other than you and your wife, have even offered help or visited me”.

I would suggest that these people said that they agreed with the scriptural characteristics of a follower of Christ (i.e., the “one anothers”), but they did not agree in reality because they did not demonstrate these same characteristics. I believe we have associated teaching and learning with agreement and knowledge. Instead, teaching and learning should be associated with following and doing.


14 Comments

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  1. 8-3-2007

    Alan,

    Well put! As a sr. minister, i have thought about and encountered this issue numerous times. It is always fascinating to me how so many people take such a conservative view of the Bible (e.g. God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word, etc. – all of those loaded terms) and frown upon people who do not hold such a high view. Yet, it is these same people who often do not serve, irregularly come to worship and cannot be relied upon.

    Here, there doing and following is the “proof” that they don’t really believe what they say. If they did believe it and it was a deep conviction, they would do good works and glorify their Father.

    Indeed, these people are merely paying lip service to Jesus and showing everyone else just how contradictory their life is. Excellent post. I’m glad I found your blog, I’m enjoying it.

  2. 8-3-2007

    I remember the days when I would listen to sermons and always be thinking, “Gee, I wish so and so were here to hear this, so they’d start doing the stuff that’s being preached” – all the while having no real intentions of my own to really go out and do it myself. LOL

    I do believe that learning involves knowledge first, so I believe there’s truly a legitimate need for a time of growing in knowledge and agreement before going into action, and I don’t think you’re dismissing that at all. I fully agree that if “learning about doing” remains merely a mental agreement, then it’s not really learning.

    I also think that the more we grow in the knowledge and understanding of who we truly are in Christ, over the period of our lifetimes (a never ending process, IMO), the “doing” (one-anothering, etc) will become more and more of a natural outflow of our union with Christ and the love that He fills us with, rather than simply one-anothering because the Bible says we’re “supposed to.”

  3. 8-3-2007

    Alan-
    I like the way The Message states Hebrews 10:24 & 25: “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”
    Maybe “inventive” means offering to do someone’s laundry, doing their grocery shopping, helping someone learn to cook or bake, watching their children, helping re-roof their house, dropping off an encouraging book or tape, meeting someone for coffee and a chat, teaching a musical instrument….
    You can write your own list as you look at your fellow “anothers”.
    As far as “spurring each other on” is concerned, we can do that, too, by inviting another believer to join us in providing a meal or doing someone’s yard work when they are unable to. People are more likely to follow our examples than to follow our sermons.
    We serve Jesus best, I think, when we serve each other.
    Kat

  4. 8-3-2007

    Alan-
    I like the way The Message states Hebrews 10:24 & 25: “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”
    Maybe “inventive” means offering to do someone’s laundry, doing their grocery shopping, helping someone learn to cook or bake, watching their children, helping re-roof their house, dropping off an encouraging book or tape, meeting someone for coffee and a chat, teaching a musical instrument….
    You can write your own list as you look at your fellow “anothers”.
    As far as “spurring each other on” is concerned, we can do that, too, by inviting another believer to join us in providing a meal or doing someone’s yard work when they are unable to. People are more likely to follow our examples than to follow our sermons.
    We serve Jesus best, I think, when we serve each other.
    Kat

  5. 8-3-2007

    Alan-
    I like the way The Message states Hebrews 10:24 & 25: “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”
    Maybe “inventive” means offering to do someone’s laundry, doing their grocery shopping, helping someone learn to cook or bake, watching their children, helping re-roof their house, dropping off an encouraging book or tape, meeting someone for coffee and a chat, teaching a musical instrument….
    You can write your own list as you look at your fellow “anothers”.
    As far as “spurring each other on” is concerned, we can do that, too, by inviting another believer to join us in providing a meal or doing someone’s yard work when they are unable to. People are more likely to follow our examples than to follow our sermons.
    We serve Jesus best, I think, when we serve each other.
    Kat

  6. 8-3-2007

    Alan-
    I like the way The Message states Hebrews 10:24 & 25: “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”
    Maybe “inventive” means offering to do someone’s laundry, doing their grocery shopping, helping someone learn to cook or bake, watching their children, helping re-roof their house, dropping off an encouraging book or tape, meeting someone for coffee and a chat, teaching a musical instrument….
    You can write your own list as you look at your fellow “anothers”.
    As far as “spurring each other on” is concerned, we can do that, too, by inviting another believer to join us in providing a meal or doing someone’s yard work when they are unable to. People are more likely to follow our examples than to follow our sermons.
    We serve Jesus best, I think, when we serve each other.
    Kat

  7. 8-3-2007

    Alan-
    I like the way The Message states Hebrews 10:24 & 25: “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”
    Maybe “inventive” means offering to do someone’s laundry, doing their grocery shopping, helping someone learn to cook or bake, watching their children, helping re-roof their house, dropping off an encouraging book or tape, meeting someone for coffee and a chat, teaching a musical instrument….
    You can write your own list as you look at your fellow “anothers”.
    As far as “spurring each other on” is concerned, we can do that, too, by inviting another believer to join us in providing a meal or doing someone’s yard work when they are unable to. People are more likely to follow our examples than to follow our sermons.
    We serve Jesus best, I think, when we serve each other.
    Kat

  8. 8-3-2007

    Alan-
    I like the way The Message states Hebrews 10:24 & 25: “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”
    Maybe “inventive” means offering to do someone’s laundry, doing their grocery shopping, helping someone learn to cook or bake, watching their children, helping re-roof their house, dropping off an encouraging book or tape, meeting someone for coffee and a chat, teaching a musical instrument….
    You can write your own list as you look at your fellow “anothers”.
    As far as “spurring each other on” is concerned, we can do that, too, by inviting another believer to join us in providing a meal or doing someone’s yard work when they are unable to. People are more likely to follow our examples than to follow our sermons.
    We serve Jesus best, I think, when we serve each other.
    Kat

  9. 8-3-2007

    Alan-
    I like the way The Message states Hebrews 10:24 & 25: “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”
    Maybe “inventive” means offering to do someone’s laundry, doing their grocery shopping, helping someone learn to cook or bake, watching their children, helping re-roof their house, dropping off an encouraging book or tape, meeting someone for coffee and a chat, teaching a musical instrument….
    You can write your own list as you look at your fellow “anothers”.
    As far as “spurring each other on” is concerned, we can do that, too, by inviting another believer to join us in providing a meal or doing someone’s yard work when they are unable to. People are more likely to follow our examples than to follow our sermons.
    We serve Jesus best, I think, when we serve each other.
    Kat

  10. 8-3-2007

    Michael,

    I agree. As a theology student, it is even easier for me to discuss, but never do. I pray that I never “pay lip service to Jesus”, as you so eloquently put it.

    Joel,

    Yes, new believers should be allowed time and room to grow. Those who are more mature should help in this by inviting them to serve other along side of us.

    I love the way you said this: “the ‘doing’ (one-anothering, etc) will become more and more of a natural outflow of our union with Christ and the love that He fills us with”. Amen!

    Kat,

    I like your ideas. We’re trying to do this with people that we disciple. We definitely teach them with our words, but we also teach with our lives and by inviting them to join us as we serve others.

    -Alan

  11. 8-3-2007

    Hi Alan … Have you heard of Wayne Jacobsen’s book Authentic Relationships? It’s a whole book about this very same subject and why it’s so very important to not get caught in the trap and how to stay out, etc. It’s really good. I’ve read it several times and lead a small group study through it as well.

  12. 8-5-2007

    Sonja,

    I have read some of Jacobsen’s books, but not Authentic Relationships. Thank you for the link.

    -Alan

  13. 8-6-2007

    Alan–

    I think at least part of the problem is the ‘program-izing’ of the church. With good intentions to meet needs, we have developed all sorts of programs and ‘ministries’. We invite church memebers to serve in whatever program seems to best suit their gifting. But we then expect hurting people to figure out which program they should seek out for help. The angry, lonely teenager should come to Saturday’s youth group (but please check your attitude at the door, we don’t want the good church kids to be negatively influenced). The discouraged young mother should find her way to Tuesday morning’s Bible study (if she can wrangle all the kids out the door, into the car and over to church by nine AM). The financially needy family should apply to the benevolence committee (and hold their breath hoping their need is deemed ‘worthy’ of help). And the couple struggling through another day of marriage should get ‘plugged in’ to a small group (but please don’t dominate the conversation with your problems– this isn’t group therapy after all).

    Too easily, reliance on the church’s ‘ministries’ to meet needs makes us lazy and insensitive to God’s leading in our lives to individually, creatively, and joyfully meet those same needs. I’d like to see fewer calls for people to ‘come to church’, and a lot more encouragement of Christians to go out and ‘be the church’, in a radical, Spirit-led, God-glorifying way.

    Kathy J

  14. 8-6-2007

    Kathy J,

    Thank you for your comment. I call this “representative obedience”. Representative obedience occurs when people feel that they are obedient to God because their church has programs or staff to take of something.

    -Alan