It’s back-to-school time, and people of all ages are preparing for the next level in their studies. At church on Wednesday evenings I’ve been teaching a summer Bible class for five year-olds entering kindergarten. While making snakes and cut-out letters with scented homemade play-dough (a smell that reminds me of strawberry Pop-Tarts), I asked the kids if they are excited about going to school. A couple of the girls nodded eagerly, as one rambunctious little boy shouted, “NO! I hate school!”
But they are ready to go, because it’s time for them to learn something new.
In high school and college, we keep track of our progress by counting credit hours. Once you’ve completed a certain number of credit hours per required subject, then you’re able to move on to the next thing. We go from pre-algebra to algebra, from pre-cal to calculus, then to calculus II. Once you’ve mastered (or at least passed) a subject, you earn a set amount of credit hours.
Kinda makes me wonder — does God have a credit hour system? How many do I have?
I’ve always been a bit nerdy and I will just go ahead and say it: I love and will always enjoy learning. In high school I liked science so much that I wanted to learn at the college level, so I audited a class at the local community college. According to one college website, this is what happens when someone audits a class: “students who wish to attend a class without working for or expecting to receive formal credit may register to audit the course. Students who audit a course may not participate in class, do not take examinations, and do not submit papers.”
Hmmmm — all of the fun learning, but none of the responsibility. No one calling on me to answer questions, no cramming for exams — just sitting back in class sipping on my latte, soaking up the information. But on the down-side, there’s no credit hours, no way to claim the effort, no way to move on to the next level.
Please don’t audit your own spiritual growth. Many of us have been going to church for years, passively soaking up all that great information. Bible studies, prayer groups, accountability partners, retreats, ministry fairs, outreach opportunities, special donations of time or money, food drives, I could go on and on. Unlike our Christian friends in China, we have spiritual classes coming out our ears and we’re auditing them all. Not mastering anything, not participating fully in our true calling, neither working for nor expecting to receive formal credit for our spiritual progress.
This needs to change, in me and in you. Do the work! Participate fully! Show up for the exam! Then claim your credit hours and move on to the next level, because life is too short for anything else.
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:12-14