While this likely will not shock anyone who knows me, baking is not an identified strength of mine. Though my grandmother and mom were phenomenal in the kitchen, I neglected the opportunity to learn the skills of the trade from them in my younger years. Despite food being one of my primary love languages, I never realized that baking actually required skill, not to mention that it is actually a science (as all of the culinary students at Kirkwood know).
I remember being humbled during my college years when I attempted baking a cake for the first time. Needless to say, the cake was nothing like my grandma or mom would have made. It was so dry that the majority of it ended up being thrown away. What a travesty! What was meant to be worth savoring was unappetizing altogether. Though it seems so elementary to most people, I didn’t realize how important it was to follow a recipe so precisely. Too little of an ingredient (like milk or oil) or too much of an ingredient (like flour) can lead to a cake that is simply not enjoyable.
Unfortunately, I think many people end up feeling this way in their Christian walk, especially when it comes to obeying the command to “grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pt. 3:18). Were the Psalmists serious when they said things like, in Psalm 119, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day”? They were saying things like this about the Old Testament, which most of us grumble our way through or even quit reading altogether. So what is our problem when it comes to reading or studying our Bible and learning good theology?
I want to consider Jesus’ “Great Commandment” and offer potential areas of concern. When asked what is the greatest commandment of all, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Mt. 22:37). Hopefully we all desire to obey this, as we long to be close to our Savior and King! But perhaps we have not followed this recipe so precisely when it comes to learning. From my personal experience, I think we are prone to use too little of an ingredient or too much of an ingredient, leaving our learning process dry and unenjoyable.
When it comes to utilizing too little of an ingredient, many in the church simply do not consider loving the Lord our God with all their mind. Though we may prioritize our emotional connection (heart) and external actions (hands), is it possible that our walk feels dry because we have not been giving appropriate attention to our minds? We serve a God that is eternal, infinite, awesome, and glorious! “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom. 11:33) If we want to grow in our adoration of and joy in Jesus, it only makes sense that a bigger and more beautiful view of Him is necessary. And there is good news — we have the ability to gain this perspective! Not only do we have access to the all-sufficient, inspired Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17); we also have access to so many incredible resources to help us grow in our understanding of theology. I will forever be grateful for the year I spent studying under Jeff Dodge in our Veritas School of Theology program, and I encourage anyone reading this article to jump in and make the most of this class. But if nothing else, please let me plead with you to sit at the feet of Jesus personally and daily, listening to and learning from His Word. Begin feasting from the banquet table of God’s Word and trust that your appetite will only grow, as you taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8)!
However, while some individuals are prone to underuse an ingredient, there are others in the church that perhaps overuse an ingredient. These individuals love to utilize their minds, and the problem is, though they utilize their head, it is out of balance when it comes to actually loving the Lord. In the desire to learn, we are capable of becoming like Nicodemus in John 3. He was a Pharisee — a religious elite, who had learned and memorized the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) before he was even a teenager. The problem was this — he had a full head but a hole in his heart because he did not know Jesus.
There is a reality that sheer head knowledge can be deceiving and can lead to a dry, distasteful faith walk. After all, Paul’s charge to us in Romans is not to be “informed” by the renewing of our minds but to be transformed by it (Rom. 12:1). Information intake (head) must be appropriately accompanied by the stirring of our affections (heart) and the obedience of our actions (hands). If this resonates with you, I would encourage you to do two things. First, pray for the Lord to restore to you the joy of your salvation (Ps. 51:12). Second, consider what your obedience looks like when it comes to the knowledge that has already been entrusted to you.
When it comes to growing in our knowledge of God, we all have repenting to do. We are all sheep, prone to go astray. We have been given an incredible recipe for a relationship worth savoring and have botched the recipe. May God extend His great mercy and grace to us, calling us back to Himself and helping us to be most satisfied in Him. As we taste and see that the Lord is good, would our spiritual appetite for learning grow and would God transform us to be people that love living with Him and for Him!