Thursday, March 26, 2015

Becoming Like God...In His Wisdom (2 of 3)

In the previous post, a few ideas were provided regarding the benefit of learning for the disciple of Jesus. This post will provide a few insights on how we learn and some options for continuing to pursue the discipline of learning. I have expanded the thoughts a bit, so I am adding a third post this week as well.

How do we learn?

1) We learn by discipline, not by accident.

We can learn by accident, but it is not the usual course for learning. But it can stir us to learn deeper. The old adage that with age comes wisdom promotes the idea of learning by accident. We don’t try to age, we just do. But to become wise we must be intentional. The Bible makes this clear in Job 32.9. Instead, we must “train ourselves” as this series has reminded us (1 Timothy 4.7).

Consider the difference between television and books. Both are sources for data. The TV feeds us what the producers, actors, and more importantly what the advertisers want to feed us. Books allow us to feed ourselves. Sure we can change channels as easily as we can put down a book, but the goal of television is ultimately about money, not education. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against TV, but we must understand that shows designed to entertain or to educate are only on the air as long as it can make money for the network. The fact is because of television and “accidental learning” more people can name more types of beer than they can books of the Bible (and that majority is likely true for Christians as well).

What does this mean? Learning by accident does not lead to godliness. To become mature (1 Corinthians 14.20), we must become disciplined and intentional in our learning, leaving convenient and accidental learning behind.

2) We learn in a variety of ways.

a) Learning is often associated with reading. Certainly, many people struggle with reading. Yet technology today allows us to be read to with our phones, tablets, computers, kindles, etc. In the first post, I gave my life Rule #2. Here is Rule #3: READeem the time. (Consider Ephesians 5.15-17 for a full meaning).

The fact is that growing Christians read. And as the old saying goes, “Leaders are Readers.” Why don’t we read? When we were young, we were often asked to read things that were poorly written, that we didn’t like, or to know facts for a test. That may still be true for some, but as you age, you typically are able to choose what you read.

What if you read one book per month until you died? What if you died at age 80? How many books could you read? Or 90? Several years ago, I had this thought and I was only about 37-38. I realized if I did that until I was 75, I would only read about 450 more books. That was a depressing thought. Now I am almost 45, so the number would be down to almost 360. If I am only going to read 360 more books, I want them to be good. I want to be challenged. I want to grow. I want to learn.

Here are a couple of other thoughts about reading. Read a book by and about something that you disagree. For instance, if you strongly favor one political party, read about a president that you completely disagree with. The point isn’t to make you change your affiliations, but to help you learn and grow.

And do read for recreation too. But make sure some (maybe even most) of your reading will help you grow.

b) The Internet? Maybe! Many people do research how to do things on the internet – this can facilitate learning. But a great deal of reading on the internet is pleasure reading or for facts only. For instance, I am a KC Royals fan, so I read articles about the Royals. I “learn” things about the players, a particular reason why something did/did not happen. But that isn’t the kind of learning we are talking about here. That kind of learning is simply about facts. Facts fill us with information, but the Lord wants transformation. Remember, the Bible is geared toward activating the mind, but ultimately the information needs to impact the heart for any life-change to happen. And that is what God wants.

c) Talking with others. Listen, yes. But engage. Ask questions. Contribute your thoughts. Find a group in which you can express yourself, and not feel threatened by others. We all need people who know more than us, people who are in a similar place in learning, and people we can help to learn as well. In a group of 10-12 people, each person will likely find each aspect of the previous sentence related to various aspects of life. Thus, true learning can be facilitated across a variety of interests, perhaps, and hopefully, while engaging to know and understand God better. For this is the ultimate goal of learning. As John Milton said, “The end of learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love Him and to imitate Him.” Or as our series says, to Become Like God.

In tomorrow's post, I will provide a few concluding thoughts and provide the 4L’s for the week as it relates to learning.

*This series of posts is adapted from Donald Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

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