I have changed tack a little the last time introducing some early years stuff I did and learned, one of the first things was discovering what a Christian did not look like I suppose, my mistakes and misrepresentation of the Father was not helpful to me or those around. I learned much in my early years stuff.
A wrong view of the world.
In South Wales “worldliness” was equated with anyone who watched TV, went to the cinema, a dance hall or pub, followed contemporary dress trends, or hairstyles. It made the streets where I lived on a Sunday deserted as you dared not go out and kick a football around, never mind if you went to church or chapel. It was the most deserted and boring day of the week as a child, you were not even allowed to go and buy and Ice Cream or chocolate, it was just wrong, it was the Lords Day. Although you longed to be out playing, longing to be like the other boys and girls but you had the Lords day in mind. As a young believer it was a world subjected to much “give up” and filled with things I could not do. It was really, pure religion.
At 16 I made my choice, I chose to follow Jesus not realising its implication, life began to change, I could not play rugby, I had played for the town which was real joy, Rugby Club lifestyle was not Christian I was told. The cinema became a big NO, it was said, “…would you be happy to be found there when Jesus came back?” Because I loved God and genuinely wanted to follow him with everything in me, whatever these ‘better Christians’ said was taken as truth. I surrendered to their legalistic mindset, little realising it was to lead to my becoming as legalistic as they were in my view of worldliness. I could not participate, I had to remove friendship, “…if you really were a Christian you would …”, I heard being said, it was the ‘Great Give Up’, certainly not life and more abundantly!
No-one addressed what I now see to be the greater evils that were abounding in the churches at the time, hypocrisy, legalism, deceit, backbiting, gossip, division makers, etc. The result was not a “life abundant” I often tried to fill times of dullness with religious activity, thinking and trying to persuade myself I was happy.
Later understanding helped me define worldliness biblically. Consequently I was able to enjoy myself ‘in’ the world without being ‘of’ it.
Worldliness is when my attitudes, behaviour, thinking and speaking continuously conforms to the moral values of the world system around me.
Jesus brought liberty and a fullness of life, not practices and religion that constricted life out of you. Now we seek to impart life and the ability to see God everywhere, in all things, for everything is spiritual.
Ineffective Bible Studies
Within the early weeks of my Christian life I was introduced to the Bible study meeting. These were generally too complicated for me. As a dyslexic it become difficult at every level, you were judged as to how many scriptures you memorised, seeing that my dyslexia manifested itself in my memory ability of tying words and numbers together, I felt unable, therefore never good enough.
One major hindrance was everyone used the King James bible (AV) which used such outdated English that I was completely lost.
Furthermore, the study generally consisted of an exposition of a biblical passage or book with little reference or relevance to the present day. So I had little understanding of how to apply God’s Word to present day situations.
“When speaking to the ordinary man you make things plain by speaking plainly!” It took years for us all to see that God was in the translations and paraphrases, we are actually free to use any thing to instruct and gain understanding. We realised that the Father was writing a third Testaments, we have the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Third Testament, that is you and I are to be written on in our hearts and be read by all men. That the bible studied you rather than you studying it. I discovered that turning to the word of God and becoming a disciple of the Kingdom meant that I could turn and understand God in the adventure of being introduced to the deep things of God revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 2:9-10 God send God deep inside God searching for fresh insights to make known to the searching hearts – what an adventure I discovered later.
As the months rolled by I listened intently to the various interpretations people were putting on things they were reading. I was introduced to the arguments for and against different interpretations. I was becoming part of a circle of people who measured spiritual growth by how much Bible knowledge you had and how well you argued for your interpretation.
I became trapped in the arguments of the ill-informed. Pride and prejudice quickly took root in my heart in such an environment. I found myself refusing to admit my ignorance even when another’s knowledge was clearly superior to my own. So often the game of ‘bible up-man-ship’ dominated our fellowship as people.
To be clever, is often the way of the fool, not the wise.
Refusing to admit ignorance is deciding to remain ignorant.
The admission of ignorance opens your mind to knowledge that leads to understanding