All training, according to the Apostle, for the present seems to be a matter not of joy but of sorrow; nevertheless afterwards it yields a pleasant fruit and peaceful increase of reward for those who are exercised by it. For indeed what is learnt here without sorrow and toil, in the time of our very greatest stupidity and weakness?
- Columbanus, Sermon IV (Irish, 7th century)
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
- Hebrews 12.11
It's true, learning is difficult, and a disciplined life of learning means sacrificing certain things we might otherwise do so that we can spend more time in reading, study, meditation, and conversation with other learners. But God calls us to be learners - the root of "disciple" is the verb, "to learn."
So our choices are fairly easy: Either we can accept the call of God to be learners and take up the disciplines essential to such a life, or we can say that we are Christians and act as if a life devoted to learning Christ is somebody else's duty rather than our own. But then, in what sense can we think of ourselves as "learners"?
If, however, we keep our eyes fixed on the fruit of a disciplined life of learning, we might just be willing to make the sacrifices and take up the disciplines necessary to be real disciples of the Lord.
The apostle promises a peaceable fruit of righteousness from the life of training and discipline. We should not adopt a regimen of systematic and consistent learning merely for the sake of gaining more knowledge. Knowledge that does not lead to righteousness and love isn't worth the brain cells where we store it.
But to be righteous is to be like Jesus. Imagine! Being like Jesus! Only contemplate His exalted loveliness, splendor, majesty, goodness, and might, and consider that some of that can become evident in you, and increasing - if that doesn't motivate us to a life of learning, nothing will.
Look to Jesus and long to be like Him. Just to taste His goodness is enough to move us to feed on His Word, immerse ourselves with Him in prayer, and embrace the other disciplines of learning that can give us glimpses of glory and deep draughts of delight. The world today needs Christians who are learners, and who learn Jesus above all else. Is that you?
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
Pastors, if you have ever wanted to learn to write, and to have writing as a significant part of your ministry, then an opportunity is coming up for you right after the first of the year. Check out the course, "The Writing Pastor," at our website, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me.
Pastors and church leaders, looking for a quick and challenging overview of Christian worldview? The course, "One in Twelve," may be just what you need to train and inspire your church members for more consistent Christian discipleship.
Check out today's ReVision column to see how, once again, modern secular science is catching up to the Bible and Christian practice.
Get a mentor, visit the bookstore, check out the blogs, ask a question for the Members of The Fellowship - so much more to do at the website, www.ailbe.org.