Active Learning

“Those things that you have learned and taken and heard and seen in me, engage in these things. And the God of Peace will be with you.”

(Philippians 4:9)

The idea of the disciple being an imitator of Christ by being an imitator of Paul is a theme that we have already seen in Philippians and that is common to Paul’s writings. But notice just how specific Paul is when he speaks of this here. Paul speaks of those things that the Philippian church has learned from him — their reception of Paul’s verbal instructions is in sight here. He goes on to speak of that which they have taken from him. Some of our Bibles render this as “received,” which is an equally legitimate rendering of the Greek word paralamba/nw (paralambano). I prefer to translate this as “take” in the context of learning, though, for while “receive” can be understood in a more passive sense, “take” is always understood in a more active way. It is not good enough to passively receive the instruction that Paul offers, but we must be prepared to actively engage with the ideas that Paul presents and apply those ideas to our lives and situations. Further, Paul says to learn even from those things that have been seen and heard in him.

Paul goes on and says, all that has been learned in this sense…it is this that the people of the church are to live out in their lives. For many professing Christians, faith is practiced in a more passive sense. Yet, Biblical faith is lived out in every aspect of one’s life. For many more professing Christians, the corporate worship of God’s people begins when they walk through the church doorway on Sunday mornings. Yet, imagine how different our witness would be if we saw all of the week as a time of preparation for that Sunday service of worship? Think about how much more people would get out of the service and the sermon if Christians spent the night before praying that God would help them understand both the Word and its application in the Sunday message — and then if they took notes and actively tried to live out those things that were applied from the text! Oh my, would our churches and our public witness be radically different if we engaged in this way.

So, what of this language of the God of Peace? Often peace, when referred to in this way, refers to peace from the oppression of evil. And, while the enemy will attack at every corner when the Church is faithfully being the church, God will be faithful as well and preserve his own even in the midst of trials and tribulations. So, be of good cheer, learn from Paul’s words and example and live out those things in life and while the enemy will be relentless, God is infinitely greater than all the power at the enemy’s disposal.

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