THE BEST GIFT
In Sunday school we are watching Don Carson on video go through his book, The God Who Is There. Today we began Chap.8 with a discussion of how our evil is a revolt against God our maker described as “obsessive desire to challenge God – to become God ourselves, to usurp to ourselves the prerogatives that belong only to the creator…everybody wanting to be at the center of the universe.” Don points out that we don’t actually think of our rebellion this way, but that is what is going on, a conclusion that I have read in several other Christian books as well.
Today there was also a going-away-to-a Christian-leadership-program-celebration for one of the church’s high school graduates. I wondered what I could give them as a gift. As I thought about it, it occurred to me that I had already offered them the best thing I had. I taught their Sunday school class Key to the Bible which is a course in self-discipline that gives students the opportunity to discover the biblical framework for themselves with references, examples, questions, and exercises to guide them. It focuses on objective truth – what the Bible says and what it means by what it says. [This person thought and related to Scripture subjectively or applicationally, “what it means to me.”] For believers, Key is particularly helpful to clarify fundamentals and provides a great tool for working with others. It combines training and teaching with discovery so there is plenty of homework [see the key to the bible, Instructor 1, forword]. One real value of the course is the discipline of actually looking up the passages and answering the questions yourself as a daily exercise [see introduction to key to the bible, instr].
The person I’m writing about was one of several students that did not take advantage of the course – they attended most classes, participated, asked questions, but worked on the exercises very little. In other words, they chose to be involved in the teaching aspects where I did the work, but not the practice that trains them to do the work. So how should I characterize their lack of involvement – interested but lazy, resistant to working at Bible study, not serious about their faith? Did they spurn me, reject my leadership, go their own way? I’d rather not think of it in these terms, after all they seemed to enjoy the classes. Whatever the reasons, I already offered the best gift I had, and it was not accepted? Not appreciated? Not utilized? Not cherished? So this young person is going away to an expensive school into a compulsory program to practice under strangers for a year. Go figure.
Along these same lines, I have talked to other young people who expressed an interest in the Key study. I told them to e-mail me a request (I’m in the church directory) and I would send them the first lesson. This was to test their readiness, interest, and willingness to at least check it out. So far none of them has done so. I take this to mean that the study is not sufficiently in their thoughts or desires to take that small step. From this point involvement in Key must be at their initiative. Motivation is at the heart of non-compulsory participation. It is internal but is affected by all kinds of things, internal and external. Sometimes you just have to wait.