At GBC we call people to make 4 commitments to help them grow in their relationship with Jesus: Worship, Relationships, Learning, and Mission. Over the last couple of weeks I have been writing about each of these (Read about Worship here and Relationships here) because I think we need to be clear on exactly what these commitments mean. We are striving to go deeper in our church than just making a verbal commitment, we want to adopt practices and habits that centre our lives around what really matters. We believe that if we do this it opens our lives to the work of the Spirit who shapes us to be more like Jesus. This week I’d like to explain a little more in depth about why learning is so important in our journey of faith.
To do that I have to tell you a story. Just after I graduated from university I spent a year in Mexico working with Latin America Mission in a program called Spearhead, now known as Avance. It was an amazing year for me, focused on serving the local churches there while living with a Mexican family. I’m sure I went there with grand visions of making a difference in the Mexican church. What I didn’t expect was to be deeply impacted by living with a Mexican family. The Soto Lopez family was like families everywhere. They had their bright spots and their darker secrets, the flashes of brilliance and their moments of dysfunction. I remember riding home with them from our initial orientation, me speaking next to no Spanish and they speaking no English. I was definitely out of my element. Surprisingly, we were able to connect quite well. We gestured and pointed and laughed our way to a great first week, my roommate and I feeling more at home and comfortable each day. We were able, despite our language differences, to build a relationship that was fun and fairly significant with this family.
As we continued our time with the family we spent our mornings in cultural and Spanish language studies. As the time passed I began to realize that what I was learning about the culture I was living in and the language that I was fumbling through was doing something more than just giving me knowledge. It was allowing my relationship with the Soto Lopez family to deepen and grow. I began to understand them better as I understood their culture.. I could make more sense of what they were saying to me as I gained a Spanish vocabulary, not to mention the fact that I could let them know more about me. My learning was actually helping me to deepen a relationship with the whole family.
Years later I realized that the same is true of the Spiritual Life. The moment we come into a relationship with Jesus we have just that - a relationship. Our lives will never be the same. But taking the time to learn about the nature of God, theology, the history of others who have walked the same path (cultural studies) and the basics of what the Bible teaches (spiritual language) helps us to deepen and develop the relationship to more profound levels. You can come to faith and have a relationship with Jesus simply by asking God for one. But to grow and deepen in that takes some learning.
So that’s why we ask people to commit to learning. It’s not so that when they go to heaven they can show off all the things that they know. It’s to help deepen their relationship with God right here and right now. What ways are you committed to learning to grow in your relationship with God?