It’s easy to approach our spiritual lives like a sandwich. We just add the ingredients we like and leave out those that we don’t. We eat until we are satisfied—then we are done. We can fall into pretty humdrum routines where we eat the same sandwich over and over.
For the past nine weeks, I have had the privilege of sharing some thoughts and resources for personal discipleship with an amazing adult Sunday school class. They are ‘amazing’ because most of them have studied the Bible thoroughly and devotionally, and it shows in the way they think and live their lives. They have inspired me for years.
In putting this class together, I had several goals. First, to share the incredible resources that are instantly available to us now through the Internet and other technologies. We are spoiled with an embarrassment of riches for personal discipleship and Bible study. A modern toolbox can include: videos from the greatest pastors, theologians, apologists, and philosophers; apps that read the Bible and books to us while we drive or go for a walk; multimedia Bibles that help us see the context of Scripture; podcasts to challenge our thinking; websites that contain enormous volumes of theological and devotional material; online research sites that go well beyond simple biblical commentaries; apps for journaling and note-taking that help us retain what we have studied; electronic books and magazines (that are electronically searchable); free online seminary courses; map-based websites that can fly us into ancient archaeological sites; and digital videos that inspire our souls and challenge our minds.
Secondly, to expose mature Christians to contemporary (and not so contemporary) challenges to the Christian faith, and give them a flavor for how well our faith stands up to scrutiny and attack. Many of us tend to shake a bit when some intelligent-sounding pundit (or coworker at the water cooler) attacks our beliefs. What I really want to share with people is that these attacks are in the mainstream culture, and there is nothing to fear if we know the appropriate responses.
Thirdly, I wanted to expose the class to apologists, researchers, theologians, and philosophers on the front lines who are blazing trails with their debating, research, and publishing. People like J. Warner Wallace, Daniel Wallace, and William Lane Craig. (During the course, Clarke Morledge and I updated our Top 10 Scorers list to make these people and their resources easily accessible.)
Granted, all of the material presented leans heavily towards the intellectual. Unapologetically. One of the great wonders of Christianity is that it succeeds both on very simple and very complex levels. You don’t need to know a lot to be saved, but diving deep can produce great appreciation for Christianity as an objective truth.
A Baptist preacher friend says, “Not everybody needs that (intellectual rigor).” While I completely agree, there’s more to it than that. Several other friends make statements to the effect that they believe the claims of Christianity, and they don’t need all the navel gazing and logic chopping. Got it. But here’s the deal—it’s not about us. While deeper study will produce deeper appreciation for the reality of our beliefs, and that is a VERY good thing, it’s about being good disciples.
Personal Discipleship is all about making the best sandwich you can. Not for yourself, but for somebody else.
HT: Ken Petzinger, Clarke Morledge, Joe Webers, Judy Williamson, Marion Paine, Dave Rudy, CommunityTable.com (sandwich image)