October 11, 1994
Ever hear about the child psychologist who had six theories and no children? He eventually wound up with six children and no theories!
When I was a teenager, I was full of theories too. I had many books about training horses and they filled me with ideas of how to do it. It was not until I owned horses and actually began working with them that I discovered the truth about theories.
First of all, I had to separate mere theory from tested examples. Some of the books were written by people with big ideas and not much experience. While some of their ideas may have worked, I did not want to waste my time and energy with too much experimenting.
Second, I had to follow the rules. When I tried to change them, nothing worked. The authors who tested and then wrote horse training methods based on what they discovered were far more reliable than any speculation on my part.
Third, no theories had any value until it went from the book to my head then into my sessions in the corral with that horse. Without putting those good ideas to work, they were useless, at least to me.
When I grew up, I heard people talk about the Bible as if it were theoretical. They said things like, “it is okay for you but doesn’t work for me.” It made me think of my horse training days, the theories that worked and didn’t work, and the reasons why.
While liberal thinking questions whether or not the Bible story is myth or historical reality, I have taken a look at the people who live by its principles. (Notice, that is different from those who SAY they live by it.) First examine the evidence regarding the human authors. Were they people of deceit and sin? Or were they holy men of God as the Bible claims? Did they follow what they prescribe for us to follow? Did it produce changed lives?
What I see around me in my church is tested examples — from people who take the Bible seriously. They do not play around with which part they will obey and which part they say is only a legend. They demonstrate a life of faith that the Bible talks about as a valid life. While validity is not easy, nor does it claim perfection, there is integrity in those examples.
If someone is going to be a Christian and follow Scripture, they have to do it with their whole heart. I had one horse that wanted to be caught and rode first. If I rode the other one before her, she would not let me catch her. Following Christ is like that. He comes first. Whenever anyone tries to be a Christian but other things take second place, neither theory or efforts “work.”
Scripture is not being restrictive or narrow; this is what works. We need to trust God to show us how to live just as He showed the authors of the Bible how to live. We will misinterpret it and at times we will rebel against it, but God will help us become Christlike people if we give ourselves to Him.
Also we cannot change what it says. Simply put, the Gospel is forgiveness of sin and freely given eternal life. People who accept the offer are different, sometimes uncomfortably so. He does not promise to make everyone rich or cure all our problems. He does promise us eternity in His presence and to be with us in all we experience here.
Most important, the principles of Scripture have to find their way into everything we do. It is not enough to talk about love, sacrifice, joy, and other biblical qualities. We have to be kind to those who mock us, give our time to meet needs, and praise God in all of it. Whatever Christianity is, it cannot be a religion of mere theory without practice.