Do you know what I’m learning right now?
I’m learning how little I know.
About a month ago, I started working toward ordination with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I’m excited for this journey. They’ve got a great program that many wonderful pastors have survived, or endured, before me. The ordination program is designed, in my own words, to ensure that CMA pastors are well-trained, firm in their faith, and committed to the work they’re doing.
More recently in my journey, in the last year especially, I’ve realized that establishing clear goals is very helpful for me. The ordination work does just that. We have a checklist to complete for each month of the program outlining what we’ve read, written, studied, memorized, done, etc.
Part of the checklist is reading through Bible, cover to cover, two times in two different translations. As I’ve read through the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), I felt the need to learn more. I’ve read through those books plenty of times, and I’ve learned their overarching narratives pretty well, but I felt like something was missing.
There’s a difference between knowing what the Bible says and knowing the Bible. I don’t just want to know what the Bible says. I want to really know the Bible. I don’t mean I want to have the whole thing memorized (although that’d be pretty nifty). But if the Bible is God’s Word, His living and active Word, and I fully believe it is, then I want to know it in a deep, intimate, passionate, and powerful way. I want to know the Word in a way that challenges me to dive ever deeper into God.
So I started taking some free courses online through Our Daily Bread Christian University. They don’t sponsor me or anything, so please take it as honesty when I say I highly recommend these courses. I dove into theology, the study of God; systematic theology, a logical and holistic approach to theology through the Bible; Christology, the study of Christ; eschatology, the study of the end times; and a few other ologies. You get the point.
Anyway, as I bounced back and forth between reading the Word and listening to or reading these lessons on different facets of theology, I realized just how little I know. I guess I always knew I didn’t know very much, but that sentiment really comes to life when you consider just how much there is to know compared to how much you know. You followed that, right? Good.
It’s funny, in a way, that I preach the Word each week to several people who know the Word far better than I do, since they’ve been following Jesus twice as long as I’ve been living (no offense toward the well-seasoned folks of Venture).
It makes me hungry.
I first heard it in A.W. Tozer’s life-changing book The Pursuit of God, but an old hymn has the phrase, “We taste of thee o living bread and long to feast upon thee still, we drink of thee the fountainhead and long our souls of thee to fill.”
When you get a taste of who God is, sample a small divine portion of His living and active Word, walk a few steps side by side with Jesus, you can’t help but want more.
This realization has been a twofold lesson for me. The first part is that it’s okay that I don’t know very much. God has called me to this ministry and gives me exactly what I need to see it through. Just like God said to Paul, God says to each of us, “My grace is sufficient for you, the power of my love made perfect in your weakness.”
The second part is that complacency is a woeful thing. If we’re complacent knowing what we know of the Word, we miss out on the deep abiding reality that hearing God speak is a powerful joy, and His Word is the most direct way to hear Him speak. If we’re content knowing what we know of God, it is a deceptive contentment, a false feeling. It’s like being invited to a three michelin star restaurant for a free all-you-eat feast of their finest fare and saying, “those bread crumbs on the floor will suffice.” The crumbs may be delightful, but there’s so much more to be had.
God has invited us to a relentless and satisfying feast of intimacy with Him. You don’t have to start studying the ologies to eat at this banquet table. You need only seek God.
Don’t settle for crumbs.