Growing up, I remember my mother telling me not to stand in front of the microwave when I was heating up food. I’m sure she watched a well-intentioned episode of Nightline in the 80s that “proved” microwaves would fry your brain if you stood within 10 feet of them. I remember asking “why not?” and hearing the answer, “just because.” This was totally different than my mother’s rationale for not putting aluminum in the microwave. When asked “why not?” she responded with a story of how she had almost blown up her own microwave and started a fire because metal in the microwave is dangerous. Two things happened growing up: I never put anything metal in the microwave, and I never worried about standing too close. Why? Because though I was wrong, I understood how the consequences of metal catching the microwave on fire would affect my life, as opposed to simply standing in close proximity to it. This is not too different from the way we practice and students perceive discipleship. Students struggle to see the value of God’s Word and discipleship until they see how it informs and shapes their lives and how it applies to their life at school, their entertainment choices, relationships, and purpose.
Discipleship is meant to be both lived out in, and inspired by, real life events because God is present and active in us and in the world. Every opportunity we encounter is a chance for us to respond as a disciple of Jesus, and learn from our experiences as the Holy Spirit uses them to move us forward in spiritual growth. Discipleship can only truly be lived out in the world, because we live in, and God operates in, the real world. When we begin to move from standing near the microwave to understanding that metal will start a fire, we see the great value and worth of God’s Word. When we connect God’s Word to our lives, it:
Becomes our lens. When students begin to see how God’s Word addresses our struggles every day, it quickly moves from being a picture to becoming a lens. Pictures can be beautiful and enjoyable to look at, but they are stuck in their own time and understanding. A lens however is designed to bring into focus any object you point it towards. Showing students how God’s Word truly addresses everything from the reaction they have to their teachers, to the music they listen to, begins to show that God’s Word is not a picture wrapped up in its own world, but a deep, abiding, and love-filled lens that constantly brings into focus the purpose and joy God offers us.
Reveals our value. As a student, I was content to simply memorize the right answers and move on to the next thing until I realized that God’s Word spoke directly to my life. It revealed the great value and care God had placed on my everyday life. I began to realize that my actions, relationships, and goals held eternal weight in God’s eyes.
Deepens our preparation. Asking the question, “why” as we prepare to teach students God’s Word brings us face to face with how scripture addresses our lives, so we can walk through the same struggles with students. Example: It’s one thing tell students to love everyone and stop hating one another. It’s another thing to walk them through the hard truth that God should hate each of us, and yet He loves and pursues us no matter what we do to him. As a result, we can be free from the chains of sinful hate and a root of bitterness that ultimately steals joy from every relationship and area of our lives. That requires us to ask more than just what we should we do, and why God is calling us to do it.
Develops our relationships. When students begin to see you walk with them in the process of applying God’s Word to their everyday lives, it will open up the doors for authentic meaningful dialogue. In a world of shallow and often contradictory voices on what students should do everyday, students gravitate toward the sources that speak solid truth and life into their lives. Allowing God’s Word to inform our everyday lives develops and cultivates our discipleship relationships.
Creates self-feeders. When we walk students through the process of how we found the truth of God’s Word and how it addresses our lives in a meaningful way, we are not simply helping students understand one area of God’s provision in their lives, we are slowly and surely helping them learn how to process God’s Word and apply it to their lives long after they have moved on from our care.
Every Bible study, home group, small group, or any format in which you find yourself teaching God’s Word, should always be connected to life. If we are not showing students how God wants to change their daily lives, we are leaving them without the mission-informing, life-altering, power of the Gospel. Remember to always be ready to explain the Why’s your students desperately need to hear.
Connecting God’s Word to our daily lives and equipping leaders and students to discuss, process, and live out God’s Word daily is one of the key focuses of Bible Studies for Life: Students. Click here to download 3 free sessions of Bible Studies for Life: Students for Fall 2016.
This post was written by Ian Dunaway, Editor for Bible Studies for Life: Students. You can follow Ian on Twitter here – @DunaWho