James 1:22 – But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
I grew up attending AWANA; which if you’re not familiar with it, it’s a K-12 program that meets out of churches that helps provide a place for kids to have fun by way of playing games, singing songs and other things.
The main aspect of the AWANA program is that it focuses on memorization of Bible verses. I started when I was 5 and I stayed with it till I was 16 or 17, I won’t go into my falling out with the AWANA program, but in my earlier years I loved it; the games, the memorizing of Bible verses, the leaders were phenomenal in aiding to my spiritual development. On a side note, I’m glad to have helped foster the spiritual development in the context of youth ministry to one of my former leader’s sons, it’s definitely a God moment that in some degree a full circle has been completed. Thank you former Sparks leaders, you know who you are 😉
If I had the power to restructure the AWANA program, I would add to what they have to offer the application side of what was learned by memorization. Do I think it’s important to memorize Bible verses? Absolutely, but memorization needs to be paired with application. The verse I posted in James does point to taking what is learned (heard is mentioned, but that ties into their oral tradition culture) and practiced out, but you also have this repeated quite often in the chapter some Christians refer to as “The Love Chapter” (1 Corinthians 13).
The phrase within 1 Corinthians 13 that gets repeated is “If I have no love” which to me it sticks out. In that time and age I’m sure love was thought to be something that came from the heart and thoughts and learning came from the mind, so to reduce the Gospel message as something that is simply thought or learned about, to use the mind and not be in touch with the love that comes out of it via the heart…Well, the author says when he doesn’t love:
– he’s a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal
– he is nothing
– he gains nothing
Similarly for us who are followers of Christ, if we err on the side of memorization only we lack in love, and when love isn’t acted out in a tangible love…is it really love?
I implore you dare reader who is a follower of Christ to question yourself in what you’ve read in the Bible, in particularly what’s attributed to what Jesus said as well as did, do you take what you’ve read and learned and take it to those who need it? Are you in need of transitioning from being simply a hearer to a doer?
Something to chew on…