Have you ever heard that phrase, “Everything I needed to know about life I learned in kindergarten.”? While not wholly accurate, it is a figure of speech that is used to illustrate how simple life is. Unfortunately, for a lot of real things, this statement is absolutely true. Remember in kindergarten or first grade when our teachers tried to teach us how to grow things; what did we all do? We all had to bring a seed to class, put it in some soil, cared for it, and we waited for it to grow. Again, unfortunately, when it comes to agriculture we learned everything we needed to know in the first grade… or so we thought.
America used to be a rural agricultural society, but over time we have “developed” into an urban capitalistic and materialistic society. People don’t know how to grow things anymore. We are trained from the time we are young to consume, consume, consume. We are taught to work hard, so we can have money, so that we can buy things. When things break, get old, or we get tired of them, we simply throw them away and buy new things. We never really grow anything ourselves. If we need something, we just buy it. That’s what we do. That is our society. If all our machines, computers, and supply chains broke down tomorrow, if we all had to plant, nurture, grow, and process the things that we need for everyday life; how bad off would we be?
I know, and you know, it would be a horrendous disaster. Ninety eight percent of our society hasn’t grown up in an environment where we are trained to grow; instead we grow up learning how to consume. This presents a tremendous problem in regard to the topic we have been discussing for the past few weeks. Individuals, who are members of the church, don’t really understand how the church grows. Many times people think of church growth as showing up, putting money in the plate, and then it’s somebody else’s work to fill up the pews. That’s why we started off this series by discussing personal responsibility. Throughout the New Testament church, we have example after example of Christians that were NOT apostles but WERE spreading the gospel to those in need. (Acts 7:1, 8:1-4, 8:5, 8:30-35, 11:19-21, 11:22-26, 15:35, 18:24-28, 19:18-20) These examples show us Christians preaching in the midst of great persecution that sometimes lead to death. We have examples of some not stopping with the conversion of one, but having a spirit devoted to preaching the gospel to every one. These church members weren’t consumers, they were farmers.
Consumers! That’s what we are! We consume the word of God. We don’t share. Certainly we can condemn denominations or evangelical churches for how they distort the word of God, but often times we could be equally criticized for how we consume the word of God. It’s not that we are not supposed to be eating “The Bread of Life”; but rather, we are supposed to eat AND share that bread. We view the word of God as holy and sacred, and something that WE NEED instead of recognizing that it is something that WE NEED TO SHARE!!! We view the gospel as the word that is planted in our hearts, instead of realizing that we too should be sower’s of God’s word. The more we consume God’s word, the more the idea of sharing God’s word should scream out to us. Sharing the gospel of Christ should be something we learn how to do, if we don’t already know how to do it.
In a sense, I guess it was true that I learned everything I needed to know in kindergarten, because it was in kindergarten that I learned that I had a lot MORE to learn. In fact, I’ve since discovered that I always need to be learning, but more importantly, that I need to put into practice what I learn. This is true also for helping to grow the church and helping the church to grow; if I don’t put into practice what I have learned, then the outgrowth produced from the seed of God’s word being planted in my heart has yielded nothing but a fruitless seedless plant within me. (Matthew 13:1-9;18-23)