Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bookshelf Theology...


I was thinking back yesterday to a particular conversation i had about a year ago with a local Youth Pastor I know pretty well (I know all of 'em). We were talking about a very popular preacher (I'll leave out the name cause I might sound like I'm bashing him). This youth pastor was expressing his respect for the guy and his ambition to do what he does.

The preacher studies scripture for forty hours a week.... forty hours... locked in an office. Now, studying is great and all but... forty hours? And I though, at that time 50 hours would be great.

At the time I was really impressed and thought "man if I could do that..." but lately I've had new insight on this. I was thinking about a story, something Jesus did. In the beginning of Luke chapter nine, Jesus decides to send His disciples out, equipped with "power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases" nothing else. He said "take nothing for the journey- no staff; no bag no bread, no money, no extra tunic." Now when they returned, telling Jesus all the great things they did. It says "then He took them with Him and they withdrew." Jesus took them to Bethsaida alone just to listen to them, to hear their stories, to celebrate. If you look at Jesus life He does allot of living. Jesus does allot of stuff, not just teaching and talking but he rests and does life with his closest friends and He withdraws.

In many families in the church, especially pastor's families, there is an epidemic of neglect. There are broken families because they just don't have time for them. Yeah they know God they know the scriptures but wait... do they?

My step dad teaches a Friday night bible study at a recovery home called "In His Steps" where there are many guys who are familiar with scripture. One man comes to mind, I knew him, and he was a friend of our family. This guy knew the bible like the back of his hand. One day he decided to go back out onto the streets, to drugs and alcohol again. He still knows the bible thoroughly, but wait… does he?

There was another man, he went to see the passion of Christ, the same knight he went and got drunk with a girlfriend and left In His Steps, He knows the bible too… but does he really?

There was another guy, in the scripture, who asked Jesus how to be saved. This guy was an expert in the Torah so Jesus asked him, “how do you read it?” He said “Love God, love people” and Jesus said “yep” but He also said “Do this and you will live.” This guy knew it all, He was “an expert in the Law” an stud when it comes to the Torah. He knew the scriptures, but that’s not what it’s really about… is it? “Do this…,” Jesus said, “…and you will live.”

We live in a culture where what you say and what you know dominates and devours the value of what you do. We live in a culture where if you don’t know all the answers you’re nobody. To Jesus it’s the opposite. Now, I believe that study and knowledge are important but if your knowledge is limited to your intellect and never lived out then it’s nothing. Think about Jesus statement. “Do this and you will live,” the “this” is not some new idea to the “expert” he know, he told Jesus the right answer but that didn’t matter. “Do this and you will live” is about taking and claiming what you already know and actually living, doing it.

If you know something and teach others something but don’t really live it or do it what you teaching is empty and meaningless. If it doesn’t effect your life then you haven’t bought into it yet. The danger in studying and reading what everyone else thinks all day is that you won’t have the chance to see it work. Rob bell said it something like this, “if it doesn’t work in your own backyard then you have no business teaching it.”

Everything Jesus teaches is essential to who he is, it’s part of Him. His knowledge was not just intellectual.

When we say someone knows the scripture, or knows the bible, what do we mean? Maybe knowing is more about doing. Maybe how well you know something is really how close your life is to it. Jesus said something like this, “I came not to change the Law, or get rid of it but to fulfill it.” In Jesus day when someone did something the law required it was called “fulfilling the Torah.” So Jesus is essentially saying that he’s there to show everyone what it looks like to see the Law lived out, to see the Torah fulfilled in action and deed. They believed the Torah was “the way the truth and the life” and that the way to peace and the way to return to the life God designed for them, the way to the Father was to live the Torah. They believed that fulfilling the Torah was living the best kind of life, what they would call the “Olam Habah,” the life to come, the life of God’s promise, What Dallas Willard calls “the eternal kind of life, now.”

If you are not fulfilling what you’re teaching, if you’re not “practicing what you preach,” if it’s not a part of you, you have no business teaching it. How often I say things, tell people to do something that I don’t do. How often I say a lot but never DO.

“Theology is not something you buy off of a shelf, it’s grown in your backyard”
-Rob Bell

9 comments:

Teresa said...

Such a good post and thoughts, as always, from God. I marvel at your knowledge and wisdom at such a young age and how your life is affecting others. Please don't ever loose that as you grow older and can become frustrated and jaded by others who do not "see". As I read your first paragraphs about the Pastor, I thought of my own Pastor at the church we left. I also thought I would comment without reading on, "How much time he wastes not acting on what he is learning--what a waste of knowledge" and then maybe like our Pastor preached on Sunday about how our faith and what "he" preached should be acted out all week long. What hypocrites! I have stenciled on my wall a quote: "Children are in more need of models than of critics", aren't we all. As leaders, if we are not acting out our faith others will not either. Children follow what their parents DO way more than what they SAY. In sales I learned that communication is 75% body language and then tone and then the words. HUM?

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Janette said...

I am so excited that you are my friend Wes! Much like your story in "How Wes's theology got so screwed up" I started out way messed up. I think I came from a slightly different angle though. For those who don't know I was a Billy convert. Luckily I managed to hold onto faith long enough after that to begin meeting with true followers of Christ, people who lived his life with his goals and passions running in their bloodstream. Between those two times though, I was a cardboard cutout. A shiny photograph that looked decently like a Christian but never responded to questions. You were overzealous, I was underzealous and way confused. I know that I am still walking out of the fog so to speak in many ways, but "I can see clearly now..." :-)

Hmm...sorry, that should have gone with the other post, but I did actually have a different point when I started...

The (one of the) reason(s) why I love having you as a friend is that you question everything! I desire to but because of my cardboard past I am so used to accepting for lack of anything better to do. Now with Torrey I know I'm going to be asked to read a lot of well revered books. I pray that I will have the presence of mind and the courage to look at just what is being said, and formulate my own thoughts without blind acceptance. So help keep me honest this year, cus I'm gonna need it!

Ashley said...

Yay, Nettie is blogging!!! lol.

Great post Wes. I loved when Rob talked about thoes things, it all made such perfect sense, why would you talk about something you really know nothing about. I think there is such a difference between knowledge knowing and living with knowing. Great post!!

WES ELLIS said...

Thank you janette for all the kind comments, and thank you teresa.

Just to let everyone know there's a new blogger in the bloggsphere. Janette was converted to bloggism recently and her blog should be really interesting. Check it out!

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Gayla said...

Good post Wes, and how true it is. We've got to live it out.

Heidi said...

ah, bloggism... no better relgion in cyberspace. Anyway, I really like this idea. There are a lot of times when I am spending daily time with God and I can easily get so hung on having to get everything figured out, listed out, trying to predict the future so I can control the day remotely, and I just get this sense that God is just saying, "get up and live and direct your steps!" I love that. There are so many times when I just feel restless and although i think quieting your heart is important too, its even more important to listen to where God wants to send you right at that moment. There is a Don Miller quote that I love that says, "When we reduce christian spirituality to math, we dfile the holy." I have been so guilty of defiling the holy in my past, and I am so happy to so God totally freeing me from that, setting us free into the poetry, dancing, and art that he is! God is more concerned about LIFE! you have to live it!

Carolyn said...

ah, great, great post, wes!

i am reminded of how Luke tells this same story in Luke 10:17-20. Luke records Jesus as saying ... "notwithstanding in this rejoice not that the spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven!" (KVJ)

what an awesome thing to have our names written in heaven! when we really get a hold of that, we are gifted with the fear (awesome reverence) of the Lord and we cannot help but live in obedience to Him!