Saturday, May 9, 2009

Less Theologians, More Disciples

I've been thinking for quite some time about this topic. What is it God wants me to be? What exactly is a Christian? What should my goals be? What makes someone great in the Kingdom of God? What makes someone a "mature" Christian?

Our religious world is eaten up with study. We love it. The Evangelical world today is a largely academic one. We have degrees in theological studies, Biblical studies, divinity, and loads of others. Even much of what we do when we gather together is sit and learn. We listen to someone speak on Sundays and we sit in classes. We are encouraged to "study" our Bibles.

I'm not saying all this is evil. I am saying that religious academics don't necessarily produce better Christians. In many cases it may actually create worse ones.
It's amazing how much we love learning but hate doing.

I go to an official Bible school, and when I'm finished I will receive a bachelor's in Biblical studies (which I am grateful for). But with an academic approach to the Scriptures comes certain tendencies of thinking. I once heard a fellow student say, "I wonder what I need to study and how much I need to know before I become a great theologian." I've wondered a lot since then how God felt about that statement. I'm sure this person had good intentions and today wouldn't say that again, but I couldn't help but feel bothered by that statement. "I want to become a theologian. I want to have all the right answers." That was his goal. What does God want me to want? To know as much religiously as possible? Or to become as much like Jesus as possible?

Society today holds academic achievement in the highest regard. Some parents will absolutely lose it if their children even consider not going to college. But academic achievement means nothing in the Kingdom of God. In His Kingdom we are to be like little children who only want to make our Father happy. We need not understand His commands because we are too concerned with obeying them. It's amazing to me how Churches' requirements for ministry positions are religious degrees, and on top of that they pay them more the more they know. Does having more degrees make you a better minister? I'm not saying it doesn't, I'm just not saying it does. The fact that I could be a complete scoundrel but have a doctorate in divinity should tell me something about credentials in the Kingdom of Christ.

I know that there is a certain amount of academics needed in Christianity. But we are called to be followers of Jesus, not scholars of Him. While knowledge and study may better equip and stimulate our obedience, it's still a means to an end. The end is to be a devoted and loving follower of Jesus Christ. Knowing Him and His commands make that clearer, but they aren't the thing itself. There are far too many of us who know plenty about God, but know Him personally no more than we could personally know a textbook.

Filled minds do not produce spirituality.

Knowledge is a dangerous thing when it comes to God. It killed the Pharisees, and it's killing us. It's a strange thing, isn't it? To make ourselves somehow superior by having knowledge we received but did not create. Anything I know about God or His Bible I know because He let me know it. How can I feel arrogant or more mature because I learned something? The essence of learning is submitting yourself to something higher than yourself. You are taking in something that you did not make.

My primary goal in life is to be a devoted follower of Jesus in every aspect of my life. I want to have His priorities, His heart, His way of thinking, the identity He wants me to have, and everything else in my life that needs to be affected by Him. Good theology creates that. But if my study isn't increasing my discipleship to Jesus, why am I doing it?

I am convinced that the Church needs more disciples, and less theologians. Jesus' final call was to go into all the world and make more disciples. Good disciples may make good theologians, but good theologians don't always make good disciples.