I graduated college 4 years ago as a paramedic. As part of my training, I took on a schedule that looked like this:
- Class 7A-3P
- Work: 4P-9P
- Clinical: 10P-6A
- Nap in School Parking Lot: 6:30A-6:45A
I did this for about 2 years.
During my training, I learned cardiology, immunology, neurology, gynecology, pneumatology, a bunch of other ologies, Old people, young people, babies, crazy people, etc etc… I learned how to do IV’s, jam tubes in people’s throats, CPR, How to cut holes in people’s necks so they can breathe like in the movies, and all sorts of other stuff. Anything I would need to know to save someone’s life out in the field.
I spent hundreds of hours in hospitals practicing my technique, and learning about different drugs. I spend hundreds of hours in ambulances learning how to do the different skills in the back of a rig going 70 down michigan roads.
I was really good! I was top of my class. I was a favorite at the hospitals and fire departments I worked at. When people had medical problems, they called me before they called their doctor. AND I WAS USUALLY RIGHT!
Then I graduated and I became a janitor. I don’t want to become a Paramedic, in fact, I don’t want to even think about the medical field. The weird thing is that I have all the knowledge to be a great Paramedic up in my head. I could easily snatch up a job tomorrow and be great at it.
The hardest part of not going into the medic field was answering the questions:
- “Why not if you were so good?”
- “You knew the material so well, you were top of the class, so why didn’t you go become a medic?”
- “Why don’t you go practice?”
But I just don’t want to because it’s not for me.
I became a church janitor after I graduated. Being around pastors all day, I decided I should learn a thing or two about the Bible. I started by reading the book of Luke cover to cover because that is what they were preaching through. Then I found out about Calvinism. I wanted to get into Calvinism, so I took a spin through Romans 9 and its surrounding content so I could become a good Calvinist. I still didn’t feel like I had enough bible knowledge to hold a conversation with the big dogs, so I started reading the rest of the epistles.
This studying was taking too long. I wasn’t getting any smarter, and I wasn’t learning anything “deep” from these books. I decided that it was time to double my effort. I started listening to sermons, lectures, and audio books while at work. I listened to all the greats. John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, David Platt Ravi Zacharias for my apologetics, and many more. I listened to full classes of lectures from covenant theological seminary, reformed theological seminary, and a couple others that I can’t really remember. I listened to books about church history, calvinism, christian living in general, systematic theology, covenant theology, dispensationalism, eschatology, and many others.
Now I’m prepared. Now I know what I’m talking about. I remember being so proud when a friend of mine told me “You really know your stuff”
I really felt like I was really doing my job as a Christian. I found so much satisfaction in learning the Bible and getting so smart. I was such a solid Christian.
I assume you know where this is going, I didn’t practice any of it!
Eventually the study phase passed as well, and I became obsessive about podcasts, but what I want to do is zero in on theology-nerd marc. I remember that period of my life as being particularly tumultuous. I was trying to get engaged, and certain circumstances were preventing it from happening. I was very angry and bitter about the situation, and a lot of people became targets for the expression of my anger. That year, I was also working on an outreach project in a local town. I remember getting into shouting matches with the other people working on the project. I remember guilt tripping a bunch of people volunteering to do street evangelism saying, “You are either an evangelist, or you aren’t a Christian.”
That year, I had a falling out with my best friend. I also argued with 2 really good friends of mine, and now I don’t see them anymore. My little brother got married that year. I was a complete dick to him because I was jealous that I couldn’t get married. I talked down to the rest of my family because they didn’t listen to the things I listen to, or read the things I read. I scoffed at the idea of “just living a good life” quoting some obscure passage about our good works being filthy rags.
This description only scratches the surface of how much of a complete ass-hole I was. I know swearing isn’t very godly, but I’m kind of a hillbilly, and I can’t really think of a better word to describe myself.
I’m not going to tell the story of how I had this great revelation and became humble again, because that is just not true. I’m not a humble person. I’m an arrogant, self righteous, hypocritical a-hole. So much so that if you challenge me on my choice of language, I will throw down 15 bible verses with stronger, more offensive language faster than you say “You really shouldn’t say that”
If I were at a support group, I would say “Hi. My name is marc, and I’m a recovering a-hole”
From time to time, I go back exactly one year on my facebook and twitter feeds, and look at the things I have said. Now I have a podcast to do the same with. Every time I do this little excercise, I get so mad at myself! I usually yell out loud “MAN! I WAS SO STUPID! I WAS SUCH A JERK!” By God’s grace, hopefully I won’t have to go through this process a year from today, but time will tell.
Here is the big question I want to tackle:
How does one study the scriptures SOOOOOO much, and practice them SOOOOOO little?!
I’ll tell you the first part of the answer: Learning is easy. Did you know that in Paraguay, a landlocked country in central South America, they have a tea called terere? It’s really good and it boosts your energy levels. See there? You just learned something. Now go do something about it. Go order some yerba mate online now and try it! (ed. note: see below) That’s the hard part. If you believe deep down that what I said is important enough to act on, you will order some yerba mate online, and give it a try. You are going to have to trust that my promise is true and have enough faith in me that you will take my advice and go spend money. That’s the other hard part. This is going to cost you. Yerba isn’t free. It’s not cheap to ship in from South America either. But it is good for you. Trust me.
If you have continued reading this blog instead of searching online for South American tea, You got my point.
Understanding the truths of scripture is easy.
Following the commands of scripture takes enough faith to make a sacrifice. It’s HARD.
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I get kind of freaked out when I read something like this. I can’t do that! no way. I mean it sounds good on paper, but when I start to think about what that looks like in real life, I’m not gonna lie…I freak out a bit. That means I can’t drink too much when I go out. It means that I have to deal with certain people that I don’t really like. When my wife is crabby, I have to love her anyway. When my dog gets in the trash, I can’t yell and throw things and so on, and so forth.
So personally, this is where I found the answer to the question “how can I know so much, and do so little?” Because when I come across these commands(which all lead back to love God and love people), I skip over them.
It’s that simple. Love God and love others????? hmmmmmmmm too hard! NEXT!
Don’t gossip? hmmmmmmmmmm Maybe next time! NEXT!
Don’t complain? Ugh! this book is too long! NEXT VERSE!
How about some end times talk!? that will really “challenge” me!
It is SO MUCH easier to spend a night trying to hash out what exactly Paul means when he says that some are predestined, and some aren’t, and God loves everyone, but punishes some. It’s so easy to spend all my brain power thinking through something and it having literally no effect on real life.
You know what’s hard? Trusting that God will fix my wife’s immigration case. It’s hard to have a good attitude when I’m cleaning up vomit. It is hard to tithe extra at church when I can’t afford to keep my heat on at home. It’s hard to love my wife like Christ loves the church when she wants me to go do Albanian stuff when the Lions are on!
That stuff is hard.
you know what is easy?
This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
You know what is hard?
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world
The conclusion is obvious. DO IT. There’s no magic spell. There are no 8 steps to incorporate the bible into your life. There’s nothing more to learn. You don’t need to dig deeper, think harder, or learn more. The commands are right there. I know it sucks. I know its hard. Just do it. Don’t be like “Medic-student Marc” and fill your head up full of all the knowledge you will ever need, and then just go back to real life. I was stupid for doing that! It was a waste of my time, the college’s time, and my parents’ money! Even worse, don’t be like Theology-nerd-Marc. Don’t cram your head full of bible knowledge and then turn around and be a total A-hole. When you come across something Jesus tells you to do, or paul explains about how a Christian should act, DO IT. If it is challenging, or seems impossible, put your Bible down and pray about it. DO NOT KEEP READING. GO DO IT. Then come back to your bible! If you can’t do it, pray for power to do it.
Here’s one last thought that you may or may not agree with:
If your theology does not lead you to love God and love other People, you either don’t actually believe it, or it is not Biblical theology.
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