Well, it’s March 1. The postings of love and fostering fade a little in light of other meanderings of Mel. 🙂 AND it’s Friday! And that means that if it has been a typical week, I’ve been involved in four different small group bible studies as of the close of this day. And I’ve most likely perused several pages of books, articles, blogs and tweets. I really do enjoy learning and talking through the great truths of God’s word! I especially benefit from the writings of trustworthy authors who share insights and helpful ways to live out the teachings contained in the scriptures. I have always been stirred and challenged through what I read by those who have a high view of the authority of scripture and seem to have a clear and concise way of bringing application of certain scriptures to our everyday lives. I am so thankful for the access we have as Americans to so many great bible teachers. Paul tells us in Ephesians that to each one of us, as Christ followers, “grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. He gave some … as pastors and teachers in order to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ until we [become] a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. By practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ.”
I recently scanned my wonderful collection of “books” in my Kindle library on my iPad. And right now, I’m involved in a couple of different Bible studies, as well as learning from a devotional I’m reading and from my pastor every Sunday. Sometimes, though, all of this insight and challenge from others can be overwhelming. In the book “Sticky Church”, the author says that when we read the thoughts of one author or teacher regularly or even a commentary on certain passages that “it’s hard not to be overly swayed by their observations, insights, and illustrations. Everything is seen through their lens. It’s hard to remain authentically and personally engaged with the text or a topic. The value is in discovering what God is teaching me today, not just regurgitating what was taught by someone in the past.”
In thinking about our access to so many biblical teachers/authors today, I am stunned when I consider the wealth of teaching we have at our disposal in America. But also I am challenged to respond correctly by realizing the importance of my own dependence on the Holy Spirit as my ultimate teacher. Although I try to make time to go to God’s word and think through the thoughts of those I read, it’s very tempting to give a quick YES! in my spirit when I read something in which I agree or believe, without allowing scripture to be my teacher. In John, we find Jesus’ words reminding His disciples that “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you. But when the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority, but will speak whatever He hears, and will tell you what is to come.”
Often, when I read something really good, in my heart I become excited because the writing puts a resounding Amen to what I’m already learning from God’s word. But there are other times I allow the influence of an author (who is not infallible) to interpret the application for me before I’ve had much time to study and pray through a passage. It’s not necessarily that the author’s interpretation is wrong, but it may be that I need to depend on the Spirit to guide me into all truth so that I am able to learn to discern that Voice in my heart and become more … “personally engaged in the text.” Since we have the privilege of being priests and coming directly to God for His help and mercy, I don’t want to miss that wonderful blessing of knowing Him and allowing His Spirit to teach me. Of course, I don’t want to go to the other extreme either and be overly critical of those with God-given gifts of teaching, constantly looking for ways to disagree with them or find error in their interpretation.
It’s a wonderful blessing to have so many great teachers surrounding me on a daily basis. So while the spiritual gift of teaching is a vital part of the church today and many scriptures point us to its value (Romans, 1 Cor, 1/2 Timothy, and others) I pray I will never allow the opinions/interpretations of others to influence me so much I would miss the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. John tells me that “the anointing that you received from Him resides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you.” So as I appreciate and even value the wonderful insight so many of the gifted teachers of my day (and years gone by) impart, may I never lose the wonder and awe over my own access to God and His wisdom through the power of the Spirit and the mind of Christ Himself!