Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I Can Talk the Talk

David's sermon got me thinking. He spoke about how we can have knowledge about the scriptures but don't do anything about it. Now that I'm teaching a class on marriage, I wonder the same thing. Here I can provide all this information on enhancing your marriage...and we can have good discussion in class, but does it translate into action in marriages? I've gotten real good at sounding good in a discussion, clarifying ideas, and thinking critically. But that doesn't seem to translate into conscious action on my part. Does that mean that Sunday morning class or home team discussions are just for my entertainment? Is it that I just like to talk about what I should be doing instead of actually doing it? What are your suggestions for action? Is it a matter of importance, motivation, purpose, time, lack of love of Jesus, numbness, comfortable, having school on my mind, being unorganized, not being thirsty, not seeking change, etc?

6 comments:

Kent said...

Alan-

It goes back to the old argument that Jesus makes in the gospels about the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders. They have the greatest knowledge in the world about their religion but they do not truly understand all that it means. They have the knowledge but that doesn't translate in their practice. It's like the example from Jesus of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying. The Pharisee is wording this amazing prayer but his heart is not really in it. The tax collector's prayer is unimpressive but he bares his soul before God. There is a major difference. For sure, we want to have a great deal of knowledge but if we don't put those things into practice, then what goes is that knowledge. It's one thing to know God but it's another thing to know God, if you get what I'm saying.

This is something that I struggle with greatly and I suspect many do. The only suggestion I would have is to put as much emphasis on knowing God with your heart and on seeking God with your heart as you do with your head. This can mean a lot of things that I might write more about later, but I will be interested to see where others go with this.

Kent

The Swan said...

When I'm teaching a class, there's a definite difference sometimes between the Person I'm Advocating We Become and the Person I Am. Like David will put it often, it's "teaching to myself as well as you." But then, as you've mentioned, the key is not to keep that thought or that ideal in a vacuum - something I've definitely done.

Even with this trap, I relish the chance to teach, because of who it makes me. Any class you teach forces you to know a topic better, or solve one of life's problems for your "students." Sometimes it's less intimidating to gather knowledge for someone else, even when you might need it for yourself.

Speaking of which:

HOME ACTIVITY

1. Think of your biggest spiritual weakness. The hole in your wall that's let sin through all the time. The lure that always gets you. The wedge coming between you and God.

2. Research and write a class lesson for an audience of people that have this exact problem.


I'm actually not even sure right now I'm ready to do this.

Phylemon said...

This seems to be a common problem for those in positions of leadership, and I think it has everything to do with a perceived inability to participate in the act of confession. You are put on a pedestal; hand selected because of the spiritual strength others see in you. Therefore, you think, if you reveal your own weakness, you will damage not only your own standing but the well being of all who trusted in you.

The only real way to move past this and become authentic is to get over it and let your wounds be seen. I'm not sure if this is best done in a congregational setting, but a close knit group of individuals (such as those who have responded to this blog thus far) can provide a framework that allows us to open up to one another.

We must become more intentional about building one another up. Here are three of my best friends, but too often our conversations are surface level at best. We have to create opportunities to help one another become better men of God.

january embers said...

The problem of not walking the walk despite talking the talk is definitely not confined to men only. I am participating in the marriage class, and I have NOT done a good job of putting it into practice (she says as she remembers saying, "Whatever..." to her husband just an hour ago).

I think it is that basic struggle with sin brought into focus. We all have trouble putting our faith into practice sometimes, but that doesn't make it OK not to try.

"Is it motivation, purpose, time, lack of love for Jesus, numbness, comfortable, having school on my mind, being unorganinzed, not being thirsty, not seeking change, etc?" YES. It is all of those things, but I don't know how we fix it.

Maybe we fix it in small ways - baby step it. Those small steps could begin with conversations like this one. I think we have to start with confession, as Alan did.

The beginning of repentance is confession. I have to admit the problem - I confess I have trouble living out my faith every day. Specifically, I find gossip tempting, hate seductive, apathy comfortable, and the Bible less appealing than television.

I have not been able to conquer these on my own. I'm not sure I've really tried. Can we conquer these with a little help from our friends? I think accountability is helpful, but to really take on these demons, we need to lean on Jesus... and I'm not sure I've ever done that.

Kent said...

The question becomes how do you solve this problem. I think that as some of you have stated we have to be authentic. People have to see us as flawed and as real. It seems to me that the Apostle Paul did a great job of this. People knew his flaws and that helped his respect level. I do think that for us confession has to be a part it, as Paul has mentioned. But how do we create confessional opportunities. Well, the small group setting certainly lends itself to this but what about those who are not in those settings? Or what about those small groups that are not geared towards confession? I think that we have to talk more and more from the pulpit, as it sounds like David is doing, about authenticity, and about what it means to truly know Christ. We have to focus more on making and forming people as disciples. I do think that we have to give people more and more meat from scripture. Just because we want to focus on knowing him with our hearts does not mean that we can abandon coming to know him deeper with our heads. We have to move away from giving people spiritual milk. But we have to move to make people more confessional. We have not done this in the past because we have not talked about it. We also have to talk and teach more on the spiritual disciplines and help people to practice them, especially prayer. And, as churches, we have to model prayer and our prayers need to be confessional, rather than just asking God for all of our wishes. We need to pray more as churches and make people more comfortable with asking the church for prayers. This is one of the things we are focused on at Baker Blvd. We have prayer ministry every couple of weeks where we encourage people, during worship, to step out and pray with our elders or to go to others in the congregation and pray with them. What I have told people is that where better to take your problems than to the church, or where better to take your triumphs than to the church. We have to get used to sharing our lives with our community. When we do this then we will get beyond just knowing one another on a surface level.

The extreme that we want to avoid is the example of the Church of Christ minister who was murdered a couple years ago in Tennessee. Without going into who was right or wrong, what stood out to me from that case was the fact that this minister and his wife obviously were two different people at home than they portrayed when they were at church. Some of the things that came out about their personal lives during that trial shocked people who thought they knew them. Now, obviously we hope and pray that something like that never happens again but it goes to show you the fine line that we walk. We have to be open and we have to share ourselves with one another. I think the problem we have run into is that our churches have become places where we think we have to be perfect. Churches should be the place where we are able to bring our sins but we fear that if we show others our sins we will be looked down upon. How wrong is this? The church should be the one safe place in this world where we all can bring our sins and lay them at the feet of Jesus without fear of what our fellow sinners will think of us.

Sorry to ramble.

Kent

Alan W said...

It is really neat to have a diversity of perspectives. I like having really smart and passionate friends. I've been dwelling on this subject for a week...and I think we have more to talk about. But to sum up what has been said, here are a few thoughts.

1. The necessity of confession. Absolutely right, this is it. I long for this, but with the way we construct friendship, church, leadership, and the exclusion of "community" in daily life, I'm not sure this is going to happen soon, at least not on a large scale.

2. Personal reflection and researching your current state are vital...and perhaps the beginning of confession.

3. Knowledge is just in the head. I struggle with how much "knowledge" I should have in general. Is it necessary to know everything about a topic? In the field I am in, family studies, it is interesting to see how many classmates and professors know what to do, but don't do it. I'm in the same boat my fare share.

4. Self-determination. You can't save yourself with works, but you can "work at it with all of your heart"...and I'm not just talking about our jobs. Perhaps we should be thinking of this as ways to glorify The Kingdom.

5. Seek - 1 word, huge meaning. Maybe this is where we start...seeking Jesus. I've been a Christian for a long time, I've read the Bible (but not in a while). My knowledge and actions are at a standstill b/c I think I've got this Christianity thing down. I've figured out a way to be Christian and still do what I want...and yes those do bleed together on many things. I do want to lift other up and be a good dad. But I think I lack eagerness and thirst for the Word and for Jesus. I fear offending others and find it difficult to express in words my beliefs and my feelings for Jesus without leaving something out or limiting his power. Maybe we just need to start talking about Jesus. There's something warm about saying and reading his name. Blessings,Alan