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We Need Practical Application, Not Just Theory
In our educational system, the old adage goes, “Those who do, do. And those who don’t do, teach.” And the truth sometimes stings, but it is still truth. In college, for example, most of the professors who teach business classes, even on a graduate level, have never run a business themselves. They can teach you what others say to do to be successful in the business world, yet they have never lived under the pressure of having to make payroll or survive a tax audit.
And for some strange reason, we are content with learning from those who can only point the way to the Emerald City, but not lead us to where it is because they have never been there themselves. This is the definition of Convoluted Logic 101. But, I digress.
Often, we find the same mindset when looking at Scriptures. We see theory and commands given, sometimes with a reason, yet it is seldom followed up with practical application. We are told what to do and why, but the “how” part of the equation is missing. And what we desperately need in our darkening culture is an answer to our many “how” questions.
Let me give you a simple example from a well-known passage.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that (what) you (something I need to do and not something God does for me) present your bodies a living sacrifice (ok, but how?), holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service – Romans 12:1.
We know what the truth means and the reason why it is given, but often struggle with the “how” to do it. This verse talks about theory and the reason why, but is conspicuously short when it comes to the how part.
I mean, how do I present my body as a living sacrifice? And what does living sacrifice even mean? And why only my body? What about my mind, soul, spirit, or anything else I can offer? What is this passage saying and how is it done in real time?
But Sometimes We are Given the Application
Sometimes, the Lord provides for us some concrete examples to the commands He gives us. And sometimes these examples show us the depth of the command and the cost of obedience. Let me share a few from the Sermon on the Mount.
Theory: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person.”
Application: (How?) “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also” – Matthew 5:38-40.
And the application continues.
Application: (How?) “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” – Matthew 5:41-42.
And then Jesus gives us more theory, more commands that He chooses not to reveal the application. Why? Because the reason should be enough.
Theory: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” – Matthew 43-44.
Application: (How?) None
Reason: “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” – Matthew 5:45.
And to understand the command based on the reason alone, assumes an inner desire to be more like our Lord. Or an experience with the Higher Christian Life.
Is being like your heavenly Father enough for you, or do you need a bullet-point list to follow? Are you content with theory, or do you require the Law to follow?
Join us as we begin our journey of discovery to uncover the answers to the “how” questions in Scripture as we learn to leave Laodicea behind.