Lifelong Learner

Do you believe in the value of being a “lifelong learner”? That is, whatever you station in life, or whatever your age, you still have more to learn.

I suspect that most of you would say, “Of course, I am a lifelong learner!”. You would tell me about how you have always sought to improve your ability to do whatever job or task you were asked to do. You would tell me that your commitment to learning led to your promotions at work and higher earnings. You would tell me that even after retiring from “formal” employment, you still wanted to learn new things. You took adult education classes at Clemson or learned to play Pickle Ball! All because you know that the key to living a happy and full life is to learn something new.

But if I asked you if that would apply to what you know about the Bible, you might hesitate. You might say that you already know the Bible. You have heard it read to you since childhood. Its stories of God’s people are familiar to you. All that is left is for you to apply what the Bible says to life.

Well, yes, but is that completely true? Take for example what Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 18:3: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

If you are like me, you have heard that verse so many times that you THINK you know what it means. You see it as a simple and straightforward statement. If pushed, you might even argue that I am making much too much out of what is obvious. ‘It says what it says!” you might say. To enter the kingdom of heaven you must become like a child. Period.

Okay, but what does it mean to become like a “child”? Does it mean to pretend you stopped growing and behave like you did when you were six years old. Does it mean that you forget how you learned to dance when you became a teenager? Does it mean that you jettison the hard lessons you have learned in life?  Heaven forbid, does it mean that you are to forget what faith has taught you over the many years since your childhood?

All of a sudden you wonder if there is more to learn about this verse in Matthew. You decide to look at different English translations of the Greek Text of Matthew 18:3.

You read the verse in the New Revised Standard Version: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You become curious about how Jesus wants us to “change” to become more like children.

You read the verse in The Passion Translation: “Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable like a little child, you will never be able to enter in.” You wonder how you can remain open to change and remain teachable like a child with regards to living a life of faith. You wonder if being open to change and teachable is key to keeping your faith alive, vibrant, and relevant today. You wonder if the same is true for your church. You read on to learn more in Matthew’s Gospel . . .

May the Lord Bless us with a vibrant and growing faith that forever seeks to learn what the Bible has to say to us today!

Blessings to you all, Your Pastor, John