Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Are You a Teenager (like most Bible scholars)?

If you have teenagers, or know teenagers, or were a teenager, then you know this to be true:

Teenagers know EVERYTHING. 

 

Just ask one. They'll tell ya how it is. They know what they're doing. They know right from wrong. They know the meaning of life. They know they're right. And most of all, they know you're wrong. You cannot tell them anything - they already know. And, you're stupid. Especially if you are:

  • A parent
  • A teacher
  • A pastor
  • A specialist in any field
  • Any authority figure
  • A friend who disagrees
  • A sibling
  • A dog
  • An alien
  • ...

You get my point.Teenagers think they know more than everyone else, and there is nothing you can say to the contrary. Or, you could say something to the contrary.... but you'll be faced with:
  • anger
  • resentment
  • insults
  • "facts" pulled out of thin air
  • looping thought processes that are really just meant to confuse you to the point of you bowing down to their superiority.

Bible Scholars are just older teenagers

 

Yes, you read that right. Bible scholars are teenagers. Theologians are teenagers. Seminary students/graduates are teenagers. That one lady who has never missed a Sunday at church, and has read her Bible cover to cover 4 times, and teaches Sunday School/Bible Study/random people on the street - yup, she's a teenager, too.

I gladly admit, I do not know everything about the Bible. In fact, I know quite little about it. I've read it. I've studied it. But the more I study it, the more arrogant I find myself getting. Suddenly I feel God has empowered me with all His wisdom, and anyone who dares disagree with me? Idiot. I'm a teenager for crimminy's sake - I am not wrong!

Young children have an advantage over Teens/Adults


I have six children - five of whom are currently teenagers. The younger two teens aren't quite fully enveloped in that "I know everything and parents are dumb" mindset quite yet... but they're working on it. My youngest child is eleven. And even he is already slipping out of that young child advantage. But I remember when they were all in that place...

Young children are innocent. They're trusting. They're loving. And they're eager to learn. They want to learn. They hunger to follow, and believe, and learn and absorb. And they're humble. They don't claim to know the Bible. They don't claim to know whether or not baptism should be as an infant or as an adult; with a sprinkling of water or with submersion. They just know they want to know God and God's love. They want to hang on His every word. They want to be in His presence.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Matthew 18:1-5 NRSV)

When Jesus says "unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven", I believe He is wanting us all to become as I just described young children to be. He wants us to hang on His every word. He wants us to want to be in His presence. He wants us to trust and love Him with that same innocence.

There's nothing wrong with studying!


Please do not misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with learning the Bible, or theology, or doctrine. There is nothing wrong with studying these things, and learning the ancient languages. There is nothing wrong with debating these things with fellow believers. But there is something wrong when we allow our arrogance and pride to interfere. There is something wrong when we begin to act more like teenagers and less like innocent children.

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Please Lord, help keep our hearts and minds as humble children. As we grow in knowledge and experience and wisdom, help us to keep our arrogance and pride at bay. Help us hunger to keep learning about You, and help us hold on to our humility through the process. Help us to always desire to hang on Your every word and to cling to loving and trusting You.

In Jesus' name, Amen

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