Filings: Sunday School dropouts?

Former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was once quoted as saying that religion was a sham and something for the weak minded. I think the best response to this statement came from Jay Leno who commented that it’s a good thing nobody ever said that about professional wrestling.

Da Guv later amended his words somewhat saying that the people he really thinks are weak-minded are the “wackos and fundamentalists,” not the “typical” religious folks. Of course, Jesse – like the Devil and the StarTribune – are most useful when you just take it for granted that the opposite of what he says is closer to the truth.

The truly weak-minded are the ones whose convictions are easily swayed or intimidated, or those who really don’t know what they believe in the first place. After all, which is harder – to go with the flow (or the latest poll on what’s right or wrong), or to hold fast to what you’ve seen and experienced to be true when to do so is said to be unpopular or controversial?

Sometimes I wonder how an ostensibly “Christian nation” can tolerate – or even embrace – thinking and actions that are clearly ungodly. A large part of this perception is probably due to the fact that – except in unusual or extreme cases – events that show there is an active and interested God don’t make it into the news, and even when they do they are twisted or incomplete.

I think the real problem, however — and the reason why ungodliness is unwittingly celebrated — is ignorance. In our society a high school education is considered to be the bare minimum necessary to succeed. Spiritually, much of our “Christian” nation seems to be Sunday School dropouts. They have poor study skills and even less comprehension. The knowledge many have about what is really in the Bible may even be dwarfed by the number of things they think are in the Bible but really aren’t. No surprise then when policy is based on poll rather than principle. And no wonder that the best that so many can do when they struggle to come up with a spiritual answer for something they don’t understand is to say “the Lord moves in mysterious ways.” It’s only mysterious when we don’t know what the Word says!

And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ… (Ephesians 1:9)

It’s when I take my eyes off of the big picture, however, and focus on my life and the lives of those around me that I see just how tangible an impact Jesus Christ really is having. I know what’s happened in my life, and I know the testimonies of others who have sought and discovered what God’s will is for them in many areas. Therein is the hope for our world, for no lasting large-scale change can happen without the hearts of individuals being changed first.

The breakthroughs I see come in the lives of those who have permitted themselves to be discipled and who have committed to disciple others. While there’s no downplaying the importance of evangelism (how will they know, unless you go?), I think discipleship is just as important (how will they grow, unless you show?). Christians have a joint obligation to both learn from others and to help others learn. It is important to “study to show yourself approved of God” [2 Tim 2:15], but the breakthroughs in my life in healing, finances, and relationships have occurred not just when I’ve read the Word, but when I’ve also had it explained and seen it lived out. Furthermore, I’ve seen my breakthroughs get turbo-charged when I’ve helped someone apply in his life what I’ve learned in my life.

No matter where we are spiritually, there’s always someone who knows more than us, and always someone who knows less – and we need both in our lives. Furthermore, our world needs it. I know there’s lot of prayer going up for our nation, our government and for God’s will to be manifested, and I believe these prayers are and will be effective. I also believe that some of the fruit of these prayers, however, occurs when we move ourselves away from our pride and/or our self-interest and admit, first of all, that we need help and then – perhaps even harder – admit we have what it takes to help someone else.

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