At Bible College, to put it mildly – I struggled. Others seemed to know what was going on, spoke the speak, and went on to preach or teach or whatever, while I just scraped through. I tried to laugh it off. I tried to rationalize it. But the reality was that I felt bad, second rate, a thirty-yield Christian; an “also ran”.
More than 20 years later, out of the blue, The Lord in His Grace and Mercy showed me a new perspective. My paradigm, at that time: On one side, you studied to better yourself so you could be more useful to the Lord. Sounds good and right. On the other side, your grades represented how much worth you had as a Pastor, Teacher, Evangelist, Preacher, or whatever. That meant that if you did not measure up, didn’t make the academic grade, that you were somehow of less worth. Of course, nobody else may have thought that, but it was truth for me.
It sounds crazy, but my thinking was reinforced when some people seemed to have the anointing. They were promoted and given special acknowledgement, while others, who didn’t seem to have the right “whatever”, were overlooked. To me, some of those “also ran’s” were people of faith, in touch with “the man in the street”. They got on with living out their faith, obeying the Lord. But I had to be incorrect. The leaders were listening to The Lord!
I put my full support behind the leaders. I loved the guys and there was very little that I ever felt unsure about in their leadership. Especially when it came to expounding the bible and teaching biblical ways. I was glad they were my leaders. I had no problem following them. The Lord used them mightily in my growth as a Christian. But I still hurt, because the voice of condemnation said I was a thirtyfold Christian. I didn’t do “the stuff”. I could serve. That was gladly accepted. And I enjoyed serving. But I also went beyond, in that I tried to prove I was worth something in the church. Not so much to other members, but to myself, and to the voice of condemnation.
I realized tonight, as The Lord spoke, that I have a radically different view now. The Lord calls, equips and qualifies. There is no such thing as a professional Christian! Also, He does not need us to work for Him, or really do anything ‘for’ Him. It is brash and misguided to think that we can study to equip ourselves to do His work. It’s the old story of “He can even use a donkey!”
The Gospel was and is spread by people in relationship with their Lord and Savior, not just by people who have memorized vast amounts of scripture, and studied every way there is to convince another person that “I know better than you”. Am I saying we shouldn’t study? Not at all. But if the study is the only way to qualify to “do the stuff”, then the essence of the Gospel is missed.
Thank you Lord for learned people, who pour their time into studying and preaching and teaching and expounding, when it is part of God’s Kingdom building. But also, thank You Lord for people who You call, gift, equip and use, that are not special or clever or Cum Lauda. They love You Lord, and will face the seven-times furnace, because they have come to know a love and life that can be found nowhere else, except in the completed work of Jesus.