Since Pam and I became Christians, we sought opportunities to engage in Bible studies with others. When on the mission field in Chile, we were always thrilled when we were asked to lead a study in someone's home. We knew each such study had the potential to bloom into something bigger. There were joys and disappointments; thrills and chills, and there were times when we went to do a study in an area that made us wonder if we would find our car when we left our host's home. We also had to learn how to deal diplomatically with misconceptions on the Bible that were based on tradition, folklore, and simply bad teaching. While the quickest and easiest way would be to simply say "what you understand is wrong", we needed to be mindful that many beliefs were reinforced by family traditions, teachings that could cover several decades, and cultural prejudices.
During one study, we asked our host to read a text from the Gospel of John. She dutifully read it. I then asked her "what do you think that text means?" She had a confused look on her face and again read the text. I followed up with "I know what it says; what do you think it means?" She gave me a look that communicated "are you deaf?" then proceeded to read the text again. At that point I placed my hand over the text and asked, "I am asking you what you think this scripture is teaching?" At that point the look on her face changed from confusion to panic; the kind of panic we felt in school when called upon by the teacher and did not know the answer.
When we read our Bibles, we are given information. Such information conveys knowledge. There is knowledge about what is said or written. There is knowledge of what those words mean. There is knowledge about what to do what we understand. Let me provide an example. In the thirteenth chapter of John, we read the well known story of Jesus washing the feet of HIs disciples. We also are aware that culturally, washing the feet of others was the humblest form of service. It was an act considered even too low for Hebrew slaves and was normally reserved for gentile slaves or servants. It was a service given to the slave or servant at the bottom of the totem pole. In John 13:12-15 we read: [When He had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, He said to them, "Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you"].
The disciples knew what He had done. He had washed their feet. The question was not "Did you see what I did?" but "Do you understand what I have done?" Today the question could be asked in the following manner: "Did Jesus establish a theology of washing feet or a theology of service?" So we have knowledge of what was said. Knowledge of what it meant. What remains is knowing how to apply that knowledge. The application is being willing to do the humblest acts of service in the kingdom.
As we read our Bibles, let us not stop at knowing what is said but seek to understand and then put it into action.
Have a blessed Wednesday applying God's Word.