Faith: Experience vs. Education
This post already has the air of formality and wisdom, doesn't it? Do you know how I did that? I prepped you. I put two four syllable words in the title on both sides of a 'vs'. Now, I'm not sure that's an exact technique they teach in marketing class but you learn over the years that certain words and phrases catch the eye and leave the reader curious enough to want to know more, entertained enough to want to laugh further or outraged enough to keep reading in order to form his/her own counterpoint. It's manipulation in print.
Welcome to politics.
Welcome to the world of business.
Welcome to Bible study!
I once told a friend of mine that he made a great preacher. He was humble and honest and faithful and you could tell from the pews that his intentions were to share the love he had been shown. He felt inadequate for not having had any formal training from a bible college. Having been the wife of a bible college student I told him, 'Bible school isn't where you learn about God. It's where you learn how to sell Him." It seems I'm very wise.
And before I go further I want to state as fact that I love my God. I love His Word as well and there are very few things in this world that disgust me more than seeing either of them misused or misrepresented. I don't believe any form of manipulation is appropriate or necessary to get the point of God's love across to an audience. I cringe at women centered studies which always seem focused on emotional pleas and flower printed cries of confession and outpouring gushes of sisterhood. Yech! I feel manipulated again. And after it's all said and done and the study or conference or small group is over we go back home, sometimes reread, recry and pray about what we've heard, and more often than not change is not present. Things don't change in your life when you're manipulated. Do you know why? Because you're smarter than you probably think, and not always in a way that helps you. You've picked up on the forced emotional trigger and because you've played your part by reacting in the predictable way (gasps, sobs, looks of shock and disgust) nothing more is required of you. You've participated, have been affected, shook hands with the speaker or leader on the way out and exchanged comments on the importance of the lesson or sermon.
If you really want change, you need to seek it out yourself. To know God you must engage Him. Call Him out! He's there, waiting for the smoke of advice-givers, study notes, and all other means of distraction to clear out of the way so you can experience Him personally.
So here's my point, which perhaps I just should have started with in order to save you my rant; Knowledge is not faith. Forced emotional breakdowns do not represent growth. No one's inspired sermon, life story or personal transformation will grant you a closeness to God by having been present during its recitation. Notches on your bible study notebook mean nothing.....IF you in any way believe that they get you closer to God. You can not know Him more by reading, even if you're reading in order to recognize Him. And really, if you think about it, does that make sense to you now that you've read it here? If you believe you were created by Him for a personal and utterly unique relationship between the two of you, how is it that we seem to labor under the delusion that outside means and introductions are necessary for our knowing Him?
We find God by trusting Him. There is no other way. Action will always be the path to a relationship with a god who asks you to seek after Him.