the weblog of Alan Knox

How do you know how to do this?

Posted by on Jan 21, 2008 in discipleship | 6 comments

Have you seen the previews for the movie Fool’s Gold? In one scene, Finn (Matthew McConaughey) and Tess (Kate Hudson) are flying in a small plane, with Finn at the controls. Tess says in amazement, “We’re flying! How do you know how to do this?” To which Finn calmly replies, “Playstation!”

(By the way, I’ve seen this line presented in two different ways in two different trailers. In the other trailer, Tess asks, “How do you know how to fly?” To which Finn responds, “Playstation!” I wonder which one will end up in the movie…)

As you can imagine, Tess does not like Finn’s answer. I mean, seriously, who would want to fly with a pilot who had only flown airplanes on a video game? In reality, who would want to fly with a pilot who had only read about flying and practiced in simulators? We want pilots with experience – pilots who had spent time learning to fly with more experienced pilots – pilots who had worked as navigators and co-pilots long before they took the controls of the plane that we’re in, right?

We want the same thing from our surgeons. Yes, we want our doctors to study books in medical school. But, we also want them to have practiced and successfully completed any surgical procedures that they are about to do on us. We want them to have worked with more experienced surgeons, learning from them, watching them operate, doing simple procedures, and working up toward the more complicated. We would not want a surgeon to operate on us if he had only read the books – even if he earned high marks in medical school.

What about preachers and teachers and disciplers? Do we expect the same thing from them? I mean, sure, we expect them to be educated and trained in communication and hermeneutics. But, is biblical teaching carried out when information is properly communicated? Can we limit the teaching and discipling function to doling out knowledge in an efficient or entertaining manner?

It seems that teaching, preaching, and discipling as described in Scripture are much more associated with living than they are associated with studying books. They are much more associated with demonstrating how to walk with Christ than they are associated with speaking in an eloquent and systematic manner.

Thus, when we are listening to someone teach, we are not simply listening to their words, but we are also learning from their lives. When someone disciples us in what it means to love others, we do not simply need an explanation from lexicons, commentaries, and theology books, we need an example from someone who has gotten his or her hands dirty while actually serving someone in love. When someone preaches about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the world does not need to simply hear a logical and rational explanation of passion, they also need to see someone whose life has been changed by that gospel.

In other words, whether we realize it or not – and whether the preachers, teachers, and disciplers realize this or not – when someone is speaking to us about following Jesus Christ, we are always asking ourselves, “How do you know how to do this?” We should never be content with an answer that rests on study and reading. Instead, we should listen to those who have lived the gospel in their lives. These are the true teachers, preachers, and disciplers.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-21-2008

    Good stuff, as usual. I don’t know how you blog so often – you, my friend, are the king of bloggers, hands down!

  2. 1-21-2008


    A comment from a book I read recently:

    We believe what we live.

    How we live shows what we really believe. We can talk all we want about this and that but the only thing that matters is what we live out day to day.

    As a preacher I am good at talking “shop” but not so good at living what I talk. We can discuss theology all day long but if it doesn’t translate into reality it is of no value.

    The world needs to see lived out Christianity. They have had enough of talked out Christianity.

    Good blog post!


  3. 1-21-2008


    No, I’m not the king. There are plenty of more prolific bloggers than me. Thanks for the encouragement though.


    Welcome to my blog and thank you for the comment! “The world needs to see lived out Christianity. They have had enough of talked out Christianity.” Amen!


  4. 1-22-2008

    It’s kind of scary Alan but one of my best friends sons learned how to fly using a simulator from a game. My friend took his son out and he flew for several hours without any other lessons. He’s seven.

  5. 1-22-2008

    I learned how to preach the Gospel by playing the Left Behind: Tribulation Forces video game.

  6. 1-22-2008


    I don’t think I would want to fly with someone who only learned in a simulator… or with someone who was 7.


    Well, as long as you learned from the Tribulation Force and not Carpathian, then I guess you’re okay.