As anyone with kids can tell you, children imitate more than obey (or at least mine do). On the one hand it is incredibly frustrating to see them ignore simple commands, while at the same time it is hard not to smile when I see my two-year old son mimicking my hand motions. My children know what I love, and most of the time they love it too! And they delight in loving what their father loves. As a parent this level of accountability can lead to a real gut check, but I believe the same introspection and seriousness is needed for those who teach the Bible.
Whenever we stand up to preach, gather the kids for family worship, or lead a workshop in a palm-leaf cabana (go on the Kenya trip!), we not only disseminate valuable information from the Bible, we exemplify a love for God’s Word (cf. 1 Pet 5:3). For all of us in the seminary community, it is important to remember our knowledge about the Bible can never be sufficient enough to overcome a lack of love for the Bible. I have found in my own life it is far easier to acquire facts about the first-century church than it is to cultivate a regular passion for its Scriptures. And the scary part is facts make for easier lesson plans and Powerpoint presentations! If we do not cherish the Scriptures in our lives, but go to others to teach it like we do, we run the incredible risk of duplicating such hypocrisy on a global level—an idea that gives me great pause and concern.
The only solution to such a deplorable outcome is for Bible teachers (and parents) to love the Bible they teach, and that does not start when you arrive at your teaching location. By then it’s too late, you’re a fraud. Instead, we must cherish the Gospel-centered Scriptures today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and should God in his grace allow us the opportunity to open the Bible to others, then with sincerity and fervor we teach that Word which has sustained us up until that moment.
Rusty Osborne serves as Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri and is pursuing his Ph. D. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He formerly taught at Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary and has served in Kenya with TLI.