We must be teachers of do-ers, not just know-ers. A tragic inaction is illustrated in the short, provocative book How Do You Kill 11 Million People by Andy Andrews. According Andrews, the German population during World War II was about 79.7 million people. However, the Nazi party never surpassed 8.5 million members. This means that almost 90% of the population did not actively endorse what the Nazis were doing. However, most of that extraordinary majority stood by, did little, and abrogated power to those who were committing atrocities. And while some historical distance may make it easier to point a finger of judgement the average German families of the 1930’s and 1940’s, there are many examples of Christians in many different contexts who failed to act on what they knew and believed. Even today, we should note that almost 60 million children have been aborted in the US since the early 1970’s.
So what does all this have to do with biblical integration? In short: Integration must lead to action.
We must not stop short of important action steps. One of the classic approaches to Bible study helps us see this by recommending that, in our study, we ask three questions: What? So What? Now What?
- What? What does the Bible say here? What are the facts?
- So What? If the Bible says this, what does it mean? Where does it challenge me?
- Now What? If the Bible challenges me and calls for response, how should I respond in real life? What does it look like to put God’s teaching into action?
As we teach students, we must teach action with information. Worship can be defined as people responding to God’s revelation. Whenever we point students to see or know God better, we also need to point them to appropriate response.
Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self,created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore…” The “therefore” is important. Paul makes the case that after being taught the truth about themselves and God, the Ephesian church would need to respond in particular ways. Action would be required. And here are the actions he lists in the rest of the chapter: 1) Tell the truth 2) Don’t let anger cause you to sin 3) Stop stealing and work 4) Give to those in need 5) Don’t speak inappropriately, but speak helpfully 6) Don’t grieve the Spirit of God 7) Get rid of bitterness and anger 8) Be kind and compassionate 9) Forgive others like Christ forgave you. Wow! That is quite the list of actions.
So when you show your students the great wisdom and design of God, ask them if they are living according to his design. Challenge them to do so. When you point out his power, ask if they are fearing Him. When you teach his love, ask if they are loving the One who loved them first. When you teach about a God who meets needs and stands up for his people, ask if they are committed to meeting needs and standing up for others.
Biblical integration must include a call to biblical action.