I'm nearing the end of my week of Greek here in the Twin Cities. My mind is starting to feel a bit worn down, but the experience on the whole has been very positive. The interaction with my cohort in this learning process does as much for my personal growth as the classes do for my academic growth. I have greatly enjoyed being able to open up the New Testament in the language in which it was written and be able to understand some of the more basic phrases and verses even after a few weeks. I feel that with the right application and continued discipline to the language, knowing Greek could have huge dividends in my preaching and teaching.
This learning comes with a caution for me, however. While here at Bethel, my fellow classmates and I have enjoyed some laughs while watching a few television preachers and reading their blogs. (I wonder if those television preachers will ever read mine? That's an ironic thought.) While these "pastors", as they label themselves, have a wonderful grasp of God's word and parse the Greek language like experts, something is missing in their spirituality. They come across as superior and above those they are teaching. Their knowledge has not led them to grace, but to condemn and criticize those who do not understand God's word and obey God's teaching they way that they themselves do. They use their supposed wisdom to twist God's intent so that it suits their own purposes of raising money, recruiting volunteers, or promoting their own ministry. Rather than setting people free, I can't help but feel that they put a heavy burden of guilt and oppression on those they lead.
I have to wonder- what happened? They must have spent YEARS learning the Bible and studying it in order to understand the language the way they do. They have religiously applied themselves to learning all the ins and outs of an ancient language in order that they might better comprehend God's written message to us. And yet rather than making them more full of love and grace for the world around them, it has made them self-righteous, arrogant and judgemental.
Somewhere along the way, the purpose of their journey became convoluted. For some reason, I don't doubt that at the beginning these preachers wanted to know God more, but as they studied and grew, it became less about God and more about how God could be used for their own ends. And so something like the Bible that has the potential to be so wonderful and life-giving has become a weapon they wield for self-glorification.
I don't want that. I don't want to ever get to a point where what I know makes me more self-reliant and less God-dependent. My desire is that the more I know, the more I'll know that I don't know. And my understanding of Him and His words will make me humble at how much I don't understand, or better yet, how little of the things that I do understand am I able to live out. (Isn't that ultimately the bigger issue for us? It's not about how much we don't know, it's about actually doing the little that we know.)
May this be your heart as well. May you deeply desire to grow in your knowledge of the truth, and may that knowledge take you closer and closer to Him who can truly set you free.
Journey in His grace and love,