Our Spiritual Library’s Story
I’ve been thinking about what does it mean to “equip the saints for the work of service”? In most Westernize churches that means intellectual training: reading books, taking courses, and holding intellectual discussions. If I am in a men’s ministry group, I will probably have to read a book called “10 Ways To Be A Better Christian Man” or “How To Be A Better Christian Husband”. If in a small home group atmosphere, I may be asked to read a book that every small group is reading to keep the message consistent throughout the body or read articles that complement the Pastor’s sermons. If in a youth group, “How To Win Your School For Christ” may be the reading of choice. If in a women’s group, “Thousands Of Ways To Submit To Your Husband” could be another satirical title. If being a new attender, you might be asked to read, “What We Believe” book, or if you are a developing church leader, you might be asked to read “25 Steps Towards Righteous Leadership”! If you attend a mid-week service, you might read “Missions, A Call To The World” to keep you informed of the church’s missionary endeavors. If you are an “active” member, you could be reading multiple books at one time! Then when meeting as a small group, you discuss whatever book you have read: “meet & discuss” sessions. Application of what you have read will probably be done on your own, but at least you got to discuss the matter.
Being a Christian of over 50 years, I now have accumulated a large library of books (most of which I have now discarded), have taken a multitude of courses, have sat through thousands of teachings and sermons, have taken online/workbook individualized courses, have attended a multitude of conferences, to specifically train me for what? When I get to heaven, will I have to read “10 Steps To Get Into Heaven” so Peter and I can discuss it before allowing me to enter?
The Bible says that we are not only to be hearers of the Word, but doers! Unfortunately, very seldom has reading a Christian themed book lead me to become a doer of its material. I have become “aware” of its topics, “informed” of its topics, and maybe even “intellectually stimulated” by its themes, but usually not motivated to actually “do it”! Why does almost everything in Western Christendom have to be intellectualized? The Jewish culture, which is where God decided to immerse Himself, operates out of the heart, the emotion. King David is known as a man with God’s heart, not God’s head. His son, Solomon, is known as the intellect, constantly trying to intellectualize his faith unlike his father. Knowing God with your heart means experiencing God! Experience goes beyond just intellectualizing it, for if you feel it, you “do it” in order to “know it”!
Maybe to start out asking how we are “to equip the saints for the work of service”, we should ask how we can help people “experience” God for themselves, and stand beside them, behind them, next to them in “their” walk of faith, in “their” unique faith journey. What can we do to “support” them in their walk, their growth, their journey? Finally, can we “release” them to “do it” on their own, without our guidance, in other words, “grow up spiritually”, become mature in the faith? How can we teach them to depend on the faithfulness of the Father, depend on Jesus, depend on the Holy Spirit rather than depending on an older mature Christian or a professional staff member? Can we “release” them so we can move on as well as they move on in our faith walks?
Being an English teacher who emphasized reading good meaningful literature, it is ironic that I am saying that we need to at some time place aside the books written by other authors, and begin to write about our “Acts” of faith, our spiritual walk, what we are “doing” for the kingdom of God. This is not to put us under legalism of a “works” kick, but to free us to walks the journeys we are equipped to walk.
In order to understand how “to equip the saints for works of service”, I propose that we need to first understand that this journey will NOT just be just an intellectual journey, but a journey of the heart, a journey of our emotions, a journey of experiencing our faith, a faith journey in Jesus, lead by the Holy Spirit. We will continue to walk in this journey in the next series of blogs!