Monday, July 15, 2013

Core Competencies Part 4: Strength

This final core competency is a practical one. Mark 12:30 says to love God with all your strength.  Much has been made in recent years about a person’s core strength.  Someone’s core strength is made up of the large muscle groups in a person like the chest, back and so on. It is the combined power of all these muscle groups.  Developing the core of a person means they will have more agility, more power, better posture, and the ability to accomplish everyday tasks with more ease and less energy.  Focusing on one area of fitness does not enhance ones core strength. To develop more core strength, a person must focus on every aspect of who they are and be intentional about developing every muscle group.

For a Christian to develop more strength it is similar to someone who is working out trying to develop more core strength.  Nothing can be neglected for a person to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. For example if all a person does is read and develop deep theological understanding, they may not have the ability to pay their bill because their finances are all out of balance.  If a believer is deeply involved at church serving but does not continually fall in love with his spouse, their marriage will be shaky at best. A fully devoted follower needs to be handling all the areas of the life in a way that honors God in order to be the most effective Christian they can be.

When Mark talks about loving God with all your strength that means we must love God with everything we do. Every relationship, business venture, activity, and anything else a person spends energy on must be done to show God how much we love Him. Christians need to endeavor to be the best at anything they do because everything we do reflects on the greatness of God. That means that believers must love their spouse so people can see the greatness of God in that relationship. Believers must conduct themselves ethically in business because God’s nature is reflected in our business practices. One of the most famous verses in the Bible is in Colossians where it says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."1

Believers seeking to follow God with their whole being need to spend time studying how to manage their finances, relationships, and every other thing they find themselves involved in. The areas that believer over looks will be the areas that Satan will use to in order to make a believer ineffective at growing God’s kingdom and will be a obstruction in their desire to develop into a fully devoted follower of Christ.









_______________________________
1  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Col 3:23–24.

Core Competencies Part 3: With all your mind

Every Christian has a theological perspective. Unfortunately, for most believers, those perspectives may not be developed or discovered. When we look to scripture, the need for theological development is clear. Look at what Paul said in the book of Titus, “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. ” 1

One word that pops out when looking at the first part of that verse is the word trustworthy. Christians' must study the teachings behind Scripture so they can overcome wrong ideas regarding the ideas that they are confronted with. This world is a sinful one and people who teach and study the Bible are not exempt from that sin. As someone reads the Scripture, those ideas are passing through filters in our brains. Things like life circumstances, input from friends and teachers, and hidden sins will skew a readers perceptions away from where the Holy Spirit is trying to lead them into a place driven by selfish ambitions and near sighted ideas. As we live our life, we will continually encounter people whose perception of theology is driven by a sin perception than one driven by the Holy Spirit.

If we are to love the Lord with all our minds, we will find that the process of studying and training in theology will help us make better decisions. The problems and controversies of the world are continually changing. A clear understanding of the Scriptures will allow someone to be able to address any future controversial topic. The better a believer prepares, the more effective that person will be at influencing the world for expansion of the Kingdom. 

Finally, the more we understand theology the easier it will be for us to grow as Christians. Wayne Grudem said, “The more we know about God, about his Word, about his relationships to the world and mankind, the better we will trust him, the more fully we will praise him, and the more readily we will obey him.”2  Believers who never spend time studying the Scriptures and challenging their theological understandings, are essentially living life in the same manner as an infant does. Infants are taken care of constantly, their every need is given to them.  Eventually, as they grow, they move beyond that and learn to do more for themselves. Theological training is a way to move from being a spiritual baby and begin to grow towards being more like Christ.. A fulfilling Christian life is one that is growing.

This is where church leaders step in. We must be continually challenging our congregations to not be stuck in a rut spiritually. We must provide opportunities for people to ask questions we don’t know the answer to. Church leaders must encourage people and create environments were spiritual growth and theological understanding is celebrated. The deeper we grow in our walk with God and the more we seek him, the better equipped believers will be to influence their world for the gospel of Christ.

_____________________________________________



[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Tt 1:9.

[2] Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1994), 31.