I am at a loss.
Tonight another Moody Bible Institute course began at my church.
There were three attendants. Me and my husband made up two of them.
I can only speak for myself as to the value of not only attending Moody, but any other Bible study group or class. How else will I know about my Christian self without study? And not to mention how I learn as much from my fellow students and their open and honest testimony as I do from the instructor himself.
I have much respect and admiration for my instructor as well as my pastor. They are zealous for the Lord, steadfast and devoted. They will truly teach if there is only one person in the room. But in my humble opinion, they deserve a much greater audience. Not because of any of their personal characteristics, but instead because of the message they so boldly live by and deliver.
Some of us Christians have a favorite athlete, team or sport. We will spend hundreds of dollars on tickets to go support the teams and will act a plum fool at the games. We will go sit outside in the coldest weather, chests bared with letters spelling out the team’s name on our potbellies. We take it personally when the team loses or our beloved athlete does not perform so well. It becomes a part of us.
In the same manner, some Christians follow the goings-on of celebrities, who in my earthly opinion, appear to be extremely shallow on the surface, in most instances. We see them wearing a certain pair of shoes or jeans, we go out and spend our entire paycheck to get them. Celebrities set a lot of awful trends and patterns that people, including Christians, get caught up in and follow. There are entire magazines and news shows dedicated to celebrities’ lives, comprised of 90% hot air and 10% truth. At work today I happened upon a People magazine that offered to give readers a glimpse of Sofia Vergara’s $10 million home. I saw where Kanye and Kim were supposedly beginning to plan what I am sure will be a stupidly over-the-top wedding to which God will not even be invited. What more does this do but entice jealousy and self-loathing in those who are unsaved or babes in Christ (as well as some seasoned saints)?
I digress. I just wonder why we as Christians are not as zealous in our pursuit of maturity in Christ as we ought to be. Why do we exhibit more dedication, loyalty and admiration to people who do not even know we exist when the One who died selflessly for our sins is beckoning for us to draw near to Him? We will go sit out in wind, snow, sleet and hail to watch the Super Bowl but the church pews are never full on Sunday. I am struggling to keep the Moody site from being closed due to lack of participation. The Bible tells us to “forsaken not the assembly of the saints” (paraphrased from Hebrews 10:25). How can we learn to shed our former self without support and encouragement of our brothers and sisters?
Why should we go to church AND attend a Bible study?
1. God tells us to.
2. While church itself is a worthy pursuit that enables believers to rejuvenate themselves prior to the beginning of another hectic week (I think of Sunday services as a weekly revival of sorts–a revival is a renewed or increased interest in the Lord, I think in a way Sunday services apply), church does not allow believers to ask questions. As is often said in my church, a member cannot jump up in the middle of the pastor’s sermon and ask a question. Questions are best served for a class atmosphere.
3. We learn from other believers. This is the last course before Moody breaks for the summer, and I am sad. I love, I mean LOVE my fellow students and instructor. They have enhanced my life more than they can possibly know by allowing me to be a part of their lives. I listen to their struggles and how they handle them and get fresh ideas on how to handle my own. I hear from them the things they used to do and we all laugh together at how awful we were before we were saved and how we still have flaws that require prayer. For one of our classes, we were given some guiding points and asked to develop a paper and present it to the class. We all had different perspectives based on our own experiences and we were all correct in our thinking. We still adhered to Biblical principles, but applied to our lives, they each turned out different. It was an eye-opening experience.
4. Our capacity to love grows. I have to admit, being around my brothers and sisters helps me focus when I am around non-believers, and even believers whose attitudes aren’t right. I remind myself that the sourpuss I am dealing with is still a child of God and in years past might have been reflective of one of the brethren that I love so much now. Some people who seem difficult just need the right LOVE.
5. Our desire to learn about the Lord grows. This might seem out of place, but back in the 70s before I was even born Teddy Pendergrass sang a song entitled “The More I Get the More I Want”. Of course the connotations there aren’t spiritual, but it reflects my passion for the Word. Each time I read and study I become hungrier for more. I cannot wait to open the pages of that Bible and let it speak to me. Something new is revealed each and every time. I do not see how anyone can read that book and not be touched by it.
There is more to it than just that. Why do we go to Super Bowls and spend ten dollars on movie tickets? To show support for whomever that athlete or celebrity it is that we admire. But yet going to church to worship Jesus is a drag? He who was beaten beyond recognition, nailed to a cross and crucified is not worthy of the praise and worship that we so readily heap upon a man who couldn’t care less about us? We can spend $230 on a set of headphones that we saw 50 Cent wearing but complain about paying tithes to support the church and its various ministries, or won’t shell out $60 for Moody classes that lead to certificates and Bachelor’s degrees? We can go to bars and share beers with total strangers and think we are having the time of our lives but don’t care to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Why is that?
(the picture is not my own–it is from http://lacityofpraise.com/?p=24 if this image is protected no copyright infringement was intended. I just think it’s an awesome picture).