Growing up catholic I was taught that Christian education, and things like catechism were very high priorities when it came to my faith. I went to classes, memorized prayers and liturgies, and by a young age I was quite the student of the church. I knew a great deal about Catholic catechism, and could pass a written test on faith stuff easily. Then as I reached high school (now at a Reformed church), I was uncomfortable at the number of biblical passages that suggested Christians had to do something, with what they had learned, that the learning could not be the end goal or highest priority. Because information alone does not transform.
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
I began to wonder if scriptures image of being a disciple was larger than a class or book, and instead followed a process like this: Information – Practice – Reflection. What if our faith was meant to lived actively, not passively. What if Jesus model of being a disciple included hands-on learning, where we could learn, practice, and then stop to reflect on what just happened. Jesus himself models it with his disciples in Mark 9. His disciples are trying to minister to a boy with demons, and are not able to heal the boy, as they have done before with others. So Jesus first modeled to the disciples how to handle this, then sat them down and talked about what they saw. Jesus did not ask that they obtained a certain degree before they could do God’s Work, instead he modeled humility and learning while doing God’s Work. Pastor and author Brad Brisco says it this way:
God’s people need to be empowered as agents of the king. We need to learn how to think as missionaries. Furthermore, we need to develop skills that will help us meaningfully engage people and places. These skills involve learning how to better identify and participate in God’s activity in our neighborhoods, through our vocations and the public places we inhabit.
What would that look like for you? What might following Jesus in this active way be like for you? How can you become an agent of the king in the places that Jesus places you?