Live What You Learn
This past week, my church started a new series called “Unpacking Hope.” While the title of this new series certainly plays off the name of our church, this series is really built around the idea that church isn’t just another commitment in our busy schedule…it’s a lifestyle. And with that in mind, I’m really excited to start “unpacking” what being a Christian means to me. 

Let’s start by taking a look at our mission as Christians. Matthew 29:19 spells it out for us: Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The church I attend has revised this mission statement to say, Love people where they are and encourage them to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. I could probably spend an entire post on just that mission statement alone (I’ll save it for another time), but we believe this takes into account our original mission statement as defined in Matthew 29:19 but also incorporates Matthew 22:37 (and later following with verses 38-39): 
“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Taken a step further, we believe that there are five unique characteristics that identify an individual as a Christ follower:  
  • We live what we learn (commonly referred to as “practice what we preach.”).
  • We serve where we’re gifted.
  • We give from our resources.
  • We connect with others.
  • We share our story.
Over the next few weeks, I will share what I’m learning in this series (and I will really try not to be preachy by sharing from my own life in addition to telling stories from the bible)…starting with “Live What You Learn.” 
Do What It Says RS I’m pretty sure that the notion of “practicing what you preach” applies to anyone – we typically call it INTEGRITY. I mean, no one likes to be called a hypocrite. And yet “living what we learn” is the one of the key principles that causes so much criticism among the “unChristian.”

For example, if we go back to Matthew 22:37-39, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.Ephesians 4:32 then tell us to, “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” [Am I the only one singing right now?] Most of us buy into loving God…we might even theoretically buy into treating people the way we’d want to be treated (I mean, didn’t we all learn the “Golden Rule” in kindergarten?)…but to really live that way?

I could use a few other examples, but the point is that we’ve all gotten kinda lazy as it relates to the Word. I’m as guilty as anyone of picking and choosing the lessons I want to follow…of treating the Bible like it’s a self-study guidebook. Granted, I’m not the only one…the bible is full of stories of people who tried (and often succeeded) to do things their own way. Just consider the story of Naaman from 2 Kings 5:
  • Naaman was a brave soldier, but he had a skin disease called leprosy (without going into too much detail, a disease that was often thought of as a death sentence).
  • A young slave girl from Israel, served Naaman’s wife. She tells Naaman about a prophet in Israel who could cure his leprosy. 
  • Naaman’s king sends a letter to the king of Israel asking him to cure Naaman. The king of Israel gets upset because he knows he has no such power.  
  • Elisha, a man of God, asks the King of Israel if he could see Naaman. He tells Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan River. Naaman is angry because he expects much more. He thinks Elisha should easily wave his hand over him and cure him or that the rivers in his country would be better than the Jordan River. 
  • After talking with his servants, Naaman decides to obey. He dips one, two, three, four, five, six, seven times. When he obeys, his leprosy is healed.  

The more I think about this story, the more I see a reflection of our own/my own disobedience. We often pray for a miracle…and yet we turn our noses up at the simplest of solutions…we know what needs to be done and yet we don’t do it. It’s like carrying around a day planner, writing down important information/dates/assignments and then never following through.

For example, I graduated from Peace College in 2004. In the process of paying off my student loans, I’ve also known that I really needed to give back to the Loyalty Fund. Private schools such as Peace rely on endowments and alumnae contributions. However, in the past few years, I haven’t given back…and I’m not sure I have a good excuse. As a result (and as I mentioned a few weeks ago), Peace finds itself carrying the heavy burden of transitioning to a co-educational university in order to survive. Just like Naaman, I found myself angry with this decision. I remember having conversations with fellow alums, “why didn’t they ask us for our input…did they consider other possible solutions…?” Then I take a step back – where have I been the past seven years? If it was as simple as making an annual contribution…why didn’t I just do it? More importantly…what am I going to do now?

This same “GAP” between what we should do and what we do, do gets us every time. I know I should give a portion of my earnings to God (and to my beloved Alma Mater), but do I? I know that I should serve, but have I? I know that I should love people where they are, but do I really live that behavior?
With all of that said, it all starts with being obedient to him…and usually in an area that makes absolutely no sense right now. James 1:22 says, “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”

So, what is the GAP in your life? What is God calling you to do right now that is calling for a response? He’s given you all the details you need…it’s just a matter of stepping out on faith. For me, I feel as though I’m being asked to use my gifts at Peace College moving forward. Please pray with me as I respond to this pull on my heart. At this point, I don’t know anything more than he wants my problem-solving skills, but I pray that they will be used to bring glory to God.

PS: As part of our service, we listened to the lyrics of Learn to Fly by the Foo Fighters. So, I thought I’d also include it here. “I’m looking to the sky to save me. Looking for a sign of life. Looking for something to help me burn out bright.” The video is a bit goofy but I love listening to secular music for that bigger picture message. I hope you enjoy it.