Have you ever noticed that sometimes, not all the time by any means, but sometimes, the longer a person is a Christian and the more bible knowledge they accumulate, the more they tend to get cold, cranky, crabby, and even critical, which is the exact opposite of what one would think would happen?
On the other hand......
Have you ever noticed that some young believers, even brand new Christians, who don't know ANY bible really, have little or no experience in church life and have no clue as to what they believe doctrinally speaking, exhibit a life of graciousness, excitement, and love for people that is hard to believe much less describe?
What is all this?
Would it be wiser to just shoot Christians new in the faith and be done with them rather than allowing time to mess things up?
I think all of you would recognize, I'm not discounting knowing doctrine or experiencing church life at all. But something strange does seem to happen the longer some people go to church and the more bible knowledge they accumulate and the end result is, all too often, not appealing. Again, what is all this?
I've got a suggestion as to what happens or what goes wrong. This is just my observation of course, but it is birthed out of years of experience with Christians in a gathered church experience and a systematic approach to teaching/studying the bible and, unfortunately, reflecting somewhat on my own journey and struggles as a believer.
My suggestion is simply that I believe we often misinterpret that wonderful verse in John 8:32 that says, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." All too often this verse is read as if it is saying that when we study His word faithfully the knowledge we gain of that truth doctrinally will set us free.
But I've already stated that my conviction is too many who do just that very thing wind up cold and cranky, among a few other things like being unloving and judgmental.
I said that such a view of that verse IS a misinterpretation. Well, is it? And, if so, what IS the verse really saying?
IMHO the verse is really saying...
"You shall KNOW the truth..." That word 'know' means to have an INTIMATE relationship with or to know intimately." [As, physically, Adam KNEW his wife and she conceived.]
"You shall KNOW [have an intimate relationship with] THE TRUTH..." Jesus said "I AM the truth." So it is speaking of having an intimate ongoing relationship with the reality of Jesus Himself." And the truth [Jesus Himself] will set you FREE...
At this point it might be wise to get familiar with what Stephen Olford once said. In a chapel service at Wheaton College where he was speaking he made this statement,... "Freedom is not the right to do what you want, but it is the power to be what you ought."
Bill Gothard picked that definition up and made it famous but it was Olford who first said it. I think it translates quite well what the freedom mentioned in John 8:32 is all about. It is speaking of the power for BE not the right to DO.
So, to have an intimate and on-going relationship with the reality of who Jesus is as a person, will set us free to be the person we are to be with God, others, and even ourselves. That's a far cry from becoming crabby, cranky, unloving and judgmental because we know doctrine. And it can be a real thing early in your Christian experience OR, if willing, late in life. But, as you can see, it's clearly referring to something far different than many Christians understand it to mean.
It is THIS that I think gets lost along the way for many of us as we go to church, learn bible truth, and get older in the doing of it all. Sometimes young Christians have ONLY the reality of that kind of relationship albeit not accompanied at the moment with a lot of doctrinal knowledge.
But the answer is NOT in shooting young Christians, thus saving them from the kind of fate older Christians seem to often have. [Again, just kidding remember.] The answer may simply lie in reminding all of us older more mature Christians [biologically if nothing else] we are to major on regaining, if not retaining, the experience of that kind of ongoing grace relationship with Christ.
That, it seems to me, is the very basis for life and is far more essential than head knowledge about doctrine. That can come but must never replace the reality of our grace relationship. My how we then would/could experience growing old as a Christian... gracefully.