I’m learning Scripture again. I’ve not intentionally done that on a regular basis for some time, but a few weeks ago I felt it was something I should be doing again as part of my training in discipleship. Recently I’ve been learning some verses from Matthew chapter 11, which includes the opening words of this prayer of Jesus:
‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have chosen to reveal these things not to the wise and learned, but to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do’ (Matthew 11:25-26).
There’s something important here for followers of Jesus. The Father loves to reveal things ‘not to the wise and learned.’ That phrase challenged me, because I enjoy reading and learning, am about to embark on a further course of study. Is that wrong? Should I cancel the course? Of course not! Rather I simply need to remember that studying doesn’t guarantee that I’ll grow as a disciple. Learning more about God doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily draw closer to God. I may gain lots of information but fail to experience God himself. Instead, Jesus says that revelation comes to ‘little children.’ To those who know they have a lot to learn! That means the way to ensure that I grow as disciple is to become child-like. To be curious, like a child, and to ask many questions. To trust, like a child, and obediently obey the Master’s voice. To have fun, like a child, and revel in the adventure of discovery that’s foundational to the Christ-follower.
It’s about mind-set and worldview. I need to think like a child, not like a scholar. The best leaders, teachers and communicators know this. They’re still constantly learning and discovering with child-like enthusiasm. Maybe that’s why Einstein said, ‘I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.’
Being childlike, says Jesus, pleases God. It gets his attention and causes our Father to reveal things to us. It doesn’t win our place in heaven or mean that he loves us more, because he’s already opened heaven through Christ’s cross and resurrection, and he can’t love us any more than he already does – such is the grace of God in Jesus Christ! But it does seem to open us up to prayerfully hear his prophetic voice and to welcome his work in our minds and hearts.
So I need to become more child-like. That’s something I’m working on. And I’ve been inspired to do so by reading and trying to learn Scripture. To be honest, I find learning Scripture very difficult. It takes a long time for me to remember the words, even when I’m trying hard and really concentrating. Nevertheless I’m doing my best to learn and to remember, because I know the benefits are immense. I’m trying various things to help me. One is to write down Bible verses on small thin cards and keep them in a container which I can then regularly dip into. To make this both fun and memorable my container is a simple, beautiful wooden African pot. It’s become my Scripture pot. It sits on the window-sill and when I walk past it, I’m encouraged to dip in, and re-read a Bible verse and check that I can still remember the words. Slowly but steadily it seems to be helping. I’m praying it enables me grow as a disciple of Jesus so I can know Scripture better and, most importantly, live Scripture in my daily life.
What about you – what do you doing to be shaped by the Bible? And how are you digesting Scripture?