It was a proud parent moment.
Our oldest recently competed in a Bible quizzing competition and finished with a perfect score. Some may say that it seems fitting for the pastor's kid to win, but I saw the time he spent studying and reviewing the references and definitions. His victory had more to do with his hard work than genetics.
The danger of such Bible clubs and competitions is the temptation to memorize Scripture simply for the reward. The beautifully inspired verses become a string of words learned in a particular order. The child knows the Book but not the Author.
It's so incredibly important that we as parents and teachers take the extra time to explain the meaning and context behind the passages alongside memorization. Show them Jesus before moving on to the next section to master. We may be surprised at the Spirit's conviction and encouragement in our own souls as well.
The Christian walk does require discipline, however. Giving our kids the opportunity to hide God's Word in their sponge-like minds and tender hearts can stock their spiritual arsenal for the battles that are sure to come.
During my teen years, I participated in an intricate system our youth pastor designed for accountability in spiritual disciplines. We would record our points each week for Scripture memorization, devotions, visitation and outreach, and the occasional "bonus" activity in exchange for a variety of rewards. I and my closest friends were top earners each week leading our respective teams to victory. In my mind, reading my Bible or chatting with senior citizens on a Sunday afternoon seemed like a perfect exchange for 500 points and a pizza party the next Wednesday.
Now that I'm twenty years down the road, I have a problem with this system. There are definitely rewards for spiritual habits, but they don't come in the form of candy bars or amusement parks. Without meaning to my youth pastor was creating a shortsightedness in his teens. The return on my spiritual investment might not come until I am forced to rely on His Word in a deep valley or unexpected storm. And when the prize does come, it will be in the form of more firmly rooted faith, unexplainable joy, or a confirmed identity.
This kind of spiritual exercise is not just for those in Bible club and youth groups though. We live in an increasingly dark culture yet our default is often to blend in by being gray -- not quite dark, but not completely light either. We flounder when trials come because we have not invested in our foundation during the calm seasons. We live as pseudo-spiritual people, having the right lingo and right lifestyle, but not truly knowing the God we supposedly serve.
My husband has recently started a new sermon series entitled, "We Believe." His underlying theme is this - what we believe will always affect our everyday living. Our love for our Savior grows in direct proportion to the time spent getting to know Him through His Word. Our love for others grows in direct proportion to our love for Jesus. It's a constant cycle of progress and growth until we reach our final home.
Ironically, as I write this morning, I am listening to conversations of those around me at our local coffee shop. Two mommies parent a little toddler girl and another couple is discussing our new President and his controversial decisions. Their views are affecting their living. If I were sitting at the table with them, would I be able to confidently share my beliefs? Would I be able to communicate the pursuing love of of heavenly Father? Would I be able to clearly share the Book that informs my conclusions? Would I be able to support it all with a life that reflects my convictions?
May we know and memorize the Bible, not for ribbons and medals, but for the prize of Jesus himself and may our knowledge translate into lives that proclaim the unfathomable love of our all-powerful God.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
II Timothy 3:14-15
II Timothy 3:14-15
I often think I'm doing well at living what I believe. This article from a Christian-turned-atheist challenges that conclusion: