There are many things in the Bible that are a mystery. Many things that seem to have no application to my life. Still the Bible calls itself a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” This says that it is the means by which we will see the direction we are to go. If this is so, then the things that we learn from it apply to our lives. If this is so, then we, as teachers of the Word, must ensure that we are helping those we teach to see how these things apply to their lives. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but here are four reasons why this matters.
1.) They WILL need it.
“I will never use this in real life.”
Just about every kids has had this thought. I remember as a kid having this same thought… especially in relation to algebra. I hope you appreciate the irony, as I write this, but I also felt this way about many things that I learned in english class. Certainly there are some things that we learn in school that will not apply to our careers, depending on what field we choose. However, many of the things we learn WILL apply.
As a nurse I used algebra regularly to calculate medication dosages. As a pastor, teacher, and writer I use the things I learned in english class nearly every day. As I seek to get healthier and more fit I find that there are even lessons I learned from my PE teachers that are part of my life on a regular basis these days.
The point is the things I learned back then I DO use today. The same is true of the Biblical truths we teach kids, youth, even adults. The lessons learned from the Bible apply to every part of our lives. As such we need to help the people we teach to see how they apply.
2.) They can’t see it themselves.
If you teach children you know that, in general, they can’t see how the things we teach directly apply to their lives. They tend to think too concrete, too linear. So, if you teach a story about Noah they can’t, necessarily, see how this connects to their own acts of disobedience to God or to their parents. You need to help them make the connection between the Biblical truth you are teaching and their own lives.
The same is true for youth and many adults. While some will be able to make the connections for themselves, many will not. The truth is that it is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that a person can make this connection on their own. So, for those that may not be used to listening to the Holy Spirit, let’s help them hear Him speaking.
3.) He’s not talking to me.
I believe that all of us have a tendency to assume that when the preacher says something that might actually apply to us that he is really talking to everyone else. It’s just human nature. For instance, I could easily read the story of the woman caught in adultery that was brought to Jesus to be judged. I could look at the whole thing and say to myself, “Well, I’ve never committed adultery, so this message isn’t for me.” While I have never committed adultery, this story is about more than the woman and her actions. This story is about the men that brought the woman to Jesus. The story is about the man that she was committing adultery with. The story is about Jesus. The story is about the words that Jesus said to the Pharisees and to the woman. Somewhere in the there we can all find ourselves if we take time to look. As a preacher or teacher we need to help people find themselves in the lessons we teach.
4.) Jesus taught that way.
In Matthew 6:25-32 Jesus teaches about the way to avoid worry and anxiety. In verses 34-35 He gives us the things to do, the principles that we are to follow. He gives us the formula. However, in verses 25-32 He gives us the application. He shows us how the principles He is about to give us apply to our lives. If this is how Jesus taught, then It is something we should consider as well.
What about the Holy Spirit.
As I mentioned earlier it is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit to convict our listeners. However, it is our job to be as clear as possible when we teach. I think that part of this is including application in our teaching. We cannot include every possible scenario for every person in the room. But, we can include some current, real world, applications that are appropriate for some of the ages and life stages of the people in the room and I believe we should.Matt Norman
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