study as in attentiveness

I have to give a talk on study, in between talks on piety and action. Many other talks lined up as well.

I value the intellect, and agree with Mark Noll that we evangelicals have been all too either anti-intellectual, or more like apathetic in, or downplayed matters of the mind. We need to learn to think well, if we’re truly to love God with all our minds.

But study is not just an intellectual endeavor. Along with that it involves all that makes up our humanity. We were made for relationship, and we were made for community. As well as the mandate from God for humanity, and mission in this world in following Jesus.

The question becomes: How does God get our attention? How does God keep our attention? How do we remain attentive to God, and to God’s word and will for us in this world, in and through Jesus?

I can tell my story how God captured my attention years ago. My response to that, and what has followed after. Too often I’ve seen life mostly in terms of knowledge, which is essential, but by itself not enough.

Yes, we need to be in God’s word, all of it. For me listening to something like The Bible Experience facilitates that well. And reading scripture also. Hearing it read in our church gatherings.

But God’s word is meant to lead us to God himself in Jesus by the Spirit. And in that, God’s will for us individually and in community in Jesus for the world.

I want to learn to be more attentive, really honed in on that even in the midst of all life’s demands and responsibilities.

There is much that could be said about attentiveness. It will look as different as each of us are, in its outworking in our lives. And yet it will have something of the same characteristics. Some people more on the intellectual side, others the mystical, etc. So that we benefit from each other. But no part of human life that is to be neglected in any of our lives.

What is God saying to us? How is he moving in our lives? What should be our response? And how do we know any of this to be so, in the first place? All good questions. An element of mystery to be sure in God’s working, but we need to give ourselves fully, by God’s grace in Jesus, so that we can begin to attend more and more fully to God himself, and to God’s good will for us in Jesus, together in community with others, in mission for the world.

2 comments on “study as in attentiveness

  1. kingfisher says:

    What is God saying to us?

    The Robin and the Sparrow

    Said the robin to the sparrow,
    “I should really like to know
    Why these anxious human beings
    Rush about and hurry so.”

    Said the sparrow to the robin,
    “Friend, I think that it must be
    They have no Heavenly Father
    Such as watches you and me.”

    Do we act like we have a providing-loving-protecting-comforting Heavenly Father? How do we MANAGE to act like we know this, when sometimes life is so burdensome and there’s so much pain, sorrow, and suffering?

    Oh, may we grasp that God says to us, through the beauties of Nature, through friendships, through books, and much more — “you are my beloved; I accept you!”

    How is he moving in our lives?

    “The wind blows where it will, and you can’t see it, but you hear the sound of its voice.”

    His ways are mysterious. He is likely moving “the most” in the areas where we can’t see it at all — in sickness when we would prefer health, in need where we would beg for plenty, in “looking to him as the author and finisher of our faith” even when we may feel, temporarily, that we have no faith at all, and we’ve forgotten that it’s HIS FAITH, not ours, that carries us through.

    What should be our response?

    “Thank you, Lord, that you gave yourself to me! I am so glad you gave!”

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