HOT TOPIC: It’s Worth the Struggle

 

I love to read and always have. Since the summer is here, I’ve had the opportunity to pick up a few books from my very long (non-seminary
related) reading list. Once again, I’m finding myself challenged, stretched, and sometimes uncomfortable, but arising with a deeper faith and stronger conviction to stay on the battle field for this important work of ministry in which I can partake.

When reading, I sometimes wrestle for many hours with a small portion of text; I cross reference with scripture, concordance, a dictionary or thesaurus, legitimate internet websites, and pull other books off the shelf that relate to the topic of consideration, and no I do not agree with every thing that I read in any one book by any one author.

Some may wonder, “Aren’t you concerned about taking in too much information?” One young lady recently asked me, “Has your seminary studies caused you to doubt the Bible?” My response to her, “No, my faith is now stronger because the reading has caused me to wrestle with what it is that I believe and why I believe as I do.”

From my experiences, it has not been the learning, but rather the lack of learning that is dangerous. Interestingly enough, CNN recently
published a post on their Belief blog titled, “Actually, that’s not in the Bible.”

The article included several statements that the average person (and I’m sure many Christians) believe are in the Bible, but are actually not there.

My husband and I talk frequently about such lack of knowledge. For example, no where in the Bible does it state that hallelujah is the highest form of praise. Yet, you can hear the expression across many pulpits and contemporary gospel songs of today. Recently we have discussed words that are not in the Bible, like evangelism and Holy Ghost (not sure where this one originated either). The point is that people are easily led astray but what they don’t know or what they do not accurately discern.

The Apostle Paul had a concern for the young church of Colosse, that they would not be led astray by false teachers and false beliefs.

He stated his purpose as an Apostle as this:

That they be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may

have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may

know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the

treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may

deceive you by fine-sounding arguments (Col 2:3-4).

I have read many fine-sounding arguments! Yet, I approach my reading I this manner:

Prior to reading

  • Pray for discernment and wisdom (This is the work of the Holy Spirit.)
  • Keep my Bible on hand (for quick reference). The Bible is my final authority.
  • I approach the reading with the understanding that I could possibly be wrong in my initial beliefs…and this begins the struggle.

I read, reference my Bible, and take lots of notes. Check out my post: Retaining What You Read.

After my reading

  • I review my notes (along with the referenced scriptures)
  • I complete a Book Net-out (summary). (Details also included in previous link.)
  • I make reading lists (if the author has quoted someone, or footnoted a resource, I check it out if I am interested. This also helps me discern whether or not I agree with the author’s assessment, interpretation, and research conclusions)
  • Decide what to do. Sometimes “doing something” simply means sharing the challenge: talking about select portions of my reading with friends (or sometimes teaching the material to others).

The point is that I never read just for the sake of reading alone. I read with a purpose.

I’m convinced now more than ever that we need to raise the standard of learning in the church (not just head knowledge, but also
addressing matters of the heart, and how we authentically live out the gospel’s message).

One of the books that I enjoyed reading for seminary is Discipleship of the Mind, by James W. Sire, where he states:

“Every Christian should know a little bit about almost everything; some Christians should also know a lot about many things; others should strive to know all there is to know about a very few things.”

Notice that he does not state that some Christians should know a little bit about anything, or as the old folks would say in South Carolina
“a lot about nothing.” It is important for all Christians to be continuous learners so that we strengthen our faith and are better for our journeys.

For me, it is worth the struggle.

What do you see as a major struggle of the church right now? Have you noticed a lack of learning in your local setting? How can we encourage
reading and reverse this trend in the church?

© Natasha S. Robinson 2011

10 thoughts on “HOT TOPIC: It’s Worth the Struggle

  1. Thanks Natasha.

    Your blogs also bring the reader into a place of stretching. i enjoy reading what you share with your community as you are growing. This inspires others to grow as well. I can say that you are certainly helping me. Thank you.

    I believe God is calling you to an area that really is an area of need and a struggle in the church today.
    We need authentic Christians (especially women) in the body of Christ.

    I am finding that many young Christians are struggling with their identity in Christ because they are given the wrong preception that Christianity looks like and sounds like the man or woman in the pulpit or his/her spouse. So when these people fall or disappoint suddenly the saints are thinking their identity now has to change. Another ill source of struggle in the body of Christ is the many Christians who are desperate to know their purpose. More leaders need to be helping these people find this answer to the question rather than telling them who they want them to be or placing them where they see the church has a need. Give the people the tools to find the answer rather than giving them your answer. The church needs strong and stable minded people to fight in God’s spiritual army. We have to be heart and spirit healthy to do that.

  2. Thank you so much for reading, QuaWanna and for sending your words of encouragement. I really appreciate it. I totally agree with you concerning Christians and women lacking confidence in their identity in Christ Jesus.

  3. Natasha, I really enjoy reading your messages, they are very helpful and causes much soul searching. I this blog you made a statement that you and your husband had recently discussed words that are NOT in the Bible like evangelism and Holy Ghost. Well according to the King James Version of the Bible Holy Ghost appears a few times, just to point out a few: St. Matthew 12:31, St. Luke 1:15, St. John 20:22, Acts 1:15……………..so on this one I have to disagree with you. Still you offer some good information.

    1. Hi Christie,

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify thoughts concerning words that are not in the Bible. I should have prefaced my original comment with “depending on the translation.” While I “cut my teeth” on the KJV and my husband still takes the stand that “KJV is the only real translation,” I have increased my understanding by referencing multiple translations. See my post entitled “What’s in a Bible?”

      Therefore, the focus of the post was not so much what is or is not in the Bible, but rather the seriousness in which we approach the information that is made available to us. For example, while the word evangelism may not be in a particular translation, several evangelists are identified by name in the Bible and the concept of evangelism is certainly present. So the struggle would be determining, based on what we gather from the Scriptures under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, what evangelism looks like for me in the context of my local community, church, etc.

      Likewise, most translations decided to use Holy Spirit (as the KJV does on occasion) instead of Holy Ghost. In a time when there is so much concern about who we are and what we believe as Christians, and in a worldview where mysticism and occultism is more prevalent and acceptable, I believe that it is all the more important to be careful with our language choices so that others do not assume that we mean something which we never intended. Even the prayer for discernment and our choice of words is a struggle, yes?

  4. I think our biggest stuggle in the church is ungodly believes.

    1. God just “doesn’t understand” my situation.
    2. I will always struggle with ____. The Bible says were are victorious not victims.
    3. It’s “my” money… versus a provision provided to me by God.

    I plan to stretch myself by studying Greek and Hebrew, so that I can better understand the original Biblical texts.

    Best,
    Gina

    1. Gina, I’m seriously thinking about how intensely I need to study Greek and Hebrew languages and when. I definitely want to better understand the original Biblical texts. I realize in this short period of studying that we miss so much in our translations.

  5. Hi,
    I saw your comment on Her-meneutics today and decided to check out your blog. I’m really interested in the topic of women’s role(s) in ministry–looking forward to joining some of your conversations. 🙂

  6. I think the culture of entertainment has entered the church. Who wants to open their Bible when our favorite preacher can teach us? Studying takes time and effort and not many people want to discipline themselves. The body of Christ just needs be diligent and open their Bibles. There are no shortcuts.

    1. I concur with you, Steve. Unfortunately, in many situations even the church has become a place for entertainment. Calling all Christians back to a life of spiritual discipline. There are no shortcuts. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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