I believe many Christians today go from church to church wanting to “be fed” because they haven’t learned how to learn. There are three different levels, or ways, of learning. One is not “right” and the others “wrong,” we cycle through these stages of learning if we are growing more mature spiritually.
Level 1 – I passively receive. Everyone must start here. You learn new things about God and the way of Christ, and it’s all new (or at least fresh). At this point, the learner is asking herself (maybe not in these exact words), “What’s in it for me?” “Am I being fed?” It’s a passive kind of learning. Every new Christian must start here. Basically, the only thing the learner does is show up and passively receive. There’s no mental or emotional preparation. The burden of learning is mostly on the teacher. Unfortunately, churches are full of people who never go beyond Level 1 learning. I talked in the last post about why it’s not healthy to remain in Level 1. We must go on from here.
Level 2 – I actively learn and apply. If spiritual growth occurs, the learner progresses to an active kind of learning. The mindset here is personal, “Lord, help me hear from You as I listen to this teaching.” “Lord, how can I better live this out?” The learner here realizes that whenever God’s Word goes out, it can accomplish what God intends (Isa. 55:11). All that we need are ears to hear and a willing heart that wants to respond (Matt. 13:15-16). Here the burden shifts from the teacher to the learner, from passively receiving to actively applying. This is where true growth in following Jesus begins, as we actively learn to live daily in His Word and by His Spirit together as His church. But we must go on from here.
Level 3 – I learn to teach others. Jesus said to his disciples, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.” He had just helped the woman at the well find faith, and he went on to explain that helping others find faith and grow feeds us in a way nothing else can—because we are partnering in God’s work. (John 4:32-38). There comes a time when every learner thinks, “I already know this.” Good, go on to the next question, “Am I living it out? What else can You teach me here?” If you’re living it out, good, start asking “Could I teach this to others?” “How can I help others actually live this out?” This shifts your learning to a third dimension. It’s not just about what you know, or even what you do, but how you “teach others to observe” all Jesus commanded. (Matt. 28:18-20, 2 Tim. 2:2) Let’s go on toward maturity.