Being Educated Beyond Our Obedience

I wrote a post some time ago about being a glutton for knowledge that I did nothing with. This same idea came into focus when I heard someone quote Niel Cole recently as having described American Christians as "educated beyond their obedience."
When I was growing up I can remember my charismatic church teaching that when God tells you to do something, he waits until you do it before he'll tell you anything else. I don't take this to mean that God only talks to those who obey, but rather that discipleship is done on a "need to know" basis. 

I wonder if we aren't damaging our souls by learning more about God when we haven't acted on what we already have learned. Are we becoming calloused to conviction?

Jesus had some clear teaching for his fans that resisted becoming true followers.

"Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand...and when the storm comes, the house will fall with a great crash."

The sadly funny thing is we've somehow become convinced that the best way to follow Jesus is to learn something new about God, when in fact, we'd be far better served to act upon one thing we have already "learned." You might say that the almost ignorant activists make better disciples than the learned philosophizers. And this is an indictment of me, as it is likely to be of you - who derive some pleasure from reading a blog about Jesus. :)

An elder at our church who's deeply invested in a ministry planting churches in Africa told me about how they make disciples, using a process they called "obedience based discipleship." While the sound of it is, I'll admit, a bit off-putting this is quite close to what I'm suggesting. It's a cycle of praxis that begins with Bible study: learn, action, reflect. Learn, act, reflect. They've planted thousands of churches and developed as many pastors using this method, and it's about time we learned from the new center of the Christian world.

Let me ask you, what is one thing you have learned about following Jesus that hasn't moved from mind to hand? I dare you, before you learn one more thing, before you listen to one more sermon, do it.

Related Posts:
Being Educated Beyond Our Obedience Pt. 2
God's Word is Dangerous Entertainment
Confessions of a Glutton


  1. Have you read Colson's latest column in Christianity Today. He is arguing the exact opposite. I think you are right on this.

  2. Just glanced at it - not sure we're quite talking about the same thing, but I guess if he and I had to say whether knowing more doctrine or living the doctrine we know know was more important, we might very well differ.

  3. This kind of anti-intellectualism is harmful and not helpful. It makes people feel good (“I don’t need to read that commentary on 1 Kings/learn Hebrew/study theology/etc.”).

    There is no reason that studying should hinder active living for God.

    There are plenty of reasons people want to feel better about intellectual laziness.

    Jesus, BTW, was thoroughly learned in the Hebrew Bible and the traditions and discussions of his day.

    Derek Leman

  4. I resonated with this post. Thanks for the challenge.

  5. Thanks for the feedback. I hope you're more than educated by it. ;)

  6. Derek4, I don't think it's a "choose one" thing. And this isn't an anti-intellectual thing. It's a "slowly" intellectual thing. So many people (out of good intentions) gobble up anything that has to do with God and then never put it into practice.
    James reminds us to be doers & not just hearers only, lest we fool ourselves. So many Christians are "fooling themselves." We've heard so many messages but then never done anything with them that it's come to the point that we're fooled into thinking we're truly living out God's Will, simply b/c we know a lot of stuff.
    Jesus gave us Matthew 28 for a reason... not so we would sit back and argue about what "go" means or what a "disciple" is or who our "neighbor" is. He gave us the commission so we would GO into the world and share the good news.
    And mind you, this is coming from a pastor who is shutting down my mid-week services TONIGHT to launch people to go into the world. It's time that Christians start doing something with their beliefs instead of spending all our time debating what our beliefs are.

  7. This same idea came into focus when I heard someone quote Niel Cole recently as having described American Christians as "educated beyond their obedience. fake degree