After studying in theological college, I came to understand that it can be very easy to slip into a knowledge acquisition mode in theological study. The pursuit of knowledge becomes an end in itself and every profound truth is eagerly grasped and filed away in the mind for future regurgitation at some opportune moment. This was brought home to me in a class discussion when a classmate leaned over to me and cynically said, “we theologians can take something simple and easily make it complicated.” How true, which is why I am very grateful for those of my teachers who constantly challenged us to ask ourselves what we will do with the knowledge that we learn. My theology professor constantly reminded us that theology seeks to apply truths to life and thought in order to guide us on how we ought to live accordingly. Another lecturer was always bringing in a “so what now that you have learnt all this?” dimension during our class tutorials.
As we come to church every Sunday, as we listen to the message and participate in Christian Education lessons, I believe the “so what now that you have learnt this?” aspect of Christian Education can never be over-emphasized. All that we study and hear is to help us know Him better, not know about Him better. After all God did not give us a book so that we can gain more knowledge of Him as we would read an encyclopedia for expert knowledge on a given subject. Instead, He gave us His living Word to walk with us and guide us in our daily lives. We experience His still small voice when we read his Word, whether it be comfort, rebuke or exhortation. Yet at times it can be hard to hear His voice and so we fail to obey the “so what?” part.
Do you find it a problem to hear His voice sometimes? I must admit it happens to me many times. One of the problems I believe is the busy-ness of daily life. With our fast-fix mentality, we want to hear God enlighten us the moment we pray and read our Bibles. When we spend our Quiet Time, we start with prayer or reading our Bibles mechanically. We do not make it a habit to practise quietness before God. God tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). Being still is not just about finding a quiet place without any distracting noise. It is also about the heart and mind being still before him. That means letting go those anxious thoughts about your financial problems or that nasty neighbour next door or that mean colleague in the office, legitimate concerns though they may be. It is about being willing to let go of those selfish desires and motivations, although they may cost you since many others have the same motivations. This is how we can listen to God’s voice more effectively. Once we have heard his prompting, it becomes essential that we obey what He has said to us. The Bible was meant to be obeyed, not just for the sake of hearing his voice. Then when we obey, we are leaving behind the Bible knowledge acquisition part of our faith and crossing over into the “so what?” realm of our faith. When we do so, we will then manifest our faith in our daily lives by being a blessing to the people around us.