Learners Needed

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Suess

I’m sitting in a Bible study on a Saturday morning. Well, it’s more like a Bible discussion, accountability, and mentoring group than an actual study and I love it. We’ve spent some time talking about life and how our week has been, but now we’ve moved into discussing what we’re memorizing. A friend quotes a passage that he’s memorizing from Proverbs 14 and the next guy in our group chimes in about a passage he memorized from Proverbs 15. And the short discussion starts. The subject is someone being closed-minded to ideas or having an open mind to learning. Here’s the verse we discussed for a few minutes:

“He who disdains instruction despises his own soul,

But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.” (Pro. 15:32)

It’s pretty clear in the verse that someone who is close-minded to learning and receiving instruction “despises his own soul.” But someone who is willing to learn and receive a rebuke or two will get understanding. Sounds like a simple statement. If you are willing to be rebuked, you will gain understanding. If you hate instruction, then you despise your soul. Basic if/then statements that everyone should understand. Basic and incredibly hard to practice.

The church as a whole appears to have a learning problem. I will admit that receiving instruction is something I struggle with. Especially when I feel like I have the answer to the question or I just don’t want to hear an answer because of my pride. But it’s not just me. Every church is filled with people just like this, we’re ones that think they have it figured out and don’t want to learn anything else.

It’s as if we view the church as our spiritual “safe zones” that we hear so much about on college campuses. Church is the place I can go and not hear anything that is different from my views. If you’re going to say something that could be different than what I believe than you need to warn me before saying it, because everyone in the church reads the same Bible and therefore must come to the same conclusions as me.

Is that really what church is supposed to be like? Shouldn’t I be able to fellowship with another believer in my church that thinks differently than me? Isn’t the church a tapestry of grace, filled with believers from every tongue and nation, and not a collection of clones? Shouldn’t I be open to instruction from the Bible and then study what I just heard to test if it holds up to Scripture and not blindly accept what was taught because it aligns with what I predetermined to be correct? I should clarify that I’m not talking about core doctrines of the faith. There are doctrines not up for discussion like faith in Christ’s work on the cross as the only way to have a relationship with God. But there are a lot more areas of church life that seem to be taboo to have a different views on. Those are areas that we should learn about with each other.

Dr. Suess had it right when he wrote, “The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” If we want the church to grow and go places, we need to be willing to learn from each other. We’ll need to take rebuke in order to gain understanding. A church on the move looks like generations of people that hold Scripture higher than their traditions and the Bible tighter than the latest trend or book by some famous theologian. It’s members being willing to learn from and be rebuked by their discussions with each other about the Scripture, so we can gain understanding together.

A church on the move is a church of learners. A church that refuses to receive instruction hates its own soul and will not gain understanding. None of us have it all figured out, there’s always more to learn, and what better way to grow together than by receiving instructing from each other.

One thought on “Learners Needed

  1. You wrote: “Shouldn’t I be able to fellowship with another believer in my church that thinks differently than me? Isn’t the church a tapestry of grace, filled with believers from every tongue and nation, and not a collection of clones? Shouldn’t I be open to instruction from the Bible and then study what I just heard to test if it holds up to Scripture and not blindly accept what was taught because it aligns with what I predetermined to be correct?”

    My answer is yes, yes, and yes. Maybe you need to come and hang out in our growth group for a few Sundays and join our discussion. I’m serious, because if you are finding these things missing in your relationships or contacts, I think I could introduce you to others in our local church who would make you rethink some of your points. From my perspective, I see unity, but not uniformity. And isn’t that Ephesians 4?

    Sure there will be those whose words/perspectives seem scripted, but I am hesitant to declare, as you suggest, that this is because they have a learning problem. That might be the case, but there are other possibilities, and, based on 1 Corinthians 13:7(“believeth all things” or in AMPC “ever ready to believe the best of every person”), I should give room for those possibilities. e.g., Maybe we are in a different places in our sanctification and what they are learning is different from what I’m learning. Maybe we are at two levels of Christian maturity, and one of us is more mature in our faith than the other. (Who gets to say which one of us is more mature?) Maybe they’ve become stagnant and they aren’t accepting the Lord’s instruction/correction/chastisement, but maybe I’m the one who has become stagnant. Maybe . . . there’s more to the story than that they “have a learning problem.”

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