Learning Between the Lines

What I wasn't taught in Bible school.

Learning is quite different than being taught, and I am convinced that I have learned much more than I have been taught during my time at The King’s University. Of course, what I have been taught cements itself as an integral piece of what I have learned. Perhaps a line can be drawn to expose the difference between the two. What I have been taught consisted of my professors’ lectures, lessons, sermons, articles, theories, and practices. What I learned consisted of my experiences, emotions, biases, relationships, and on occasion, mood and level of hunger. The difference lies with who is responsible for what. The teacher is responsible for what is taught; the student is responsible for what is learned. Consider the individual Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry as I suggest that you and I can be taught the same lesson and learn unique things. The following list is of those “unique things” that I have learned during my time as an undergraduate student at The King’s University.

            In no particular order:

  • I have learned that knowledge is not experience. We are asked to both know God, but also to taste and see that He is good.
  • I have learned that God is not tame, but He is good. 
  • I have learned that I experience God in His nature, and that my pastor most likely does not. This is okay! After all each of us only know in part. It is our unity in Christ that we even begin to see the grand picture.
  • I have learned that joy is a fruit of the Spirit. That though the gifts of the Spirit are of tongues, prophecy, and miracles, I should seek to first the fruit of love, joy, peace, even patience, faithfulness, and self-control. I wonder; when was the last time you were filled with patience? If we are to seek the indwelling of the Spirit, let the fruit come first and the gifts will follow.
  • I have learned that forgiveness is not optional—not for others or for ourselves.
  • I have learned that rest is not a joke. 
  • I have learned that sometimes, even with the best intentions and hardest work, I fail. In doing so I have realized that failure sometimes has consequences beyond the feeling of failure. However, neither the feeling of failure nor its consequences are greater or more defining than He who lives within me.
  • I have learned that failure is a tool, not to be afraid of, but to use.
  • I have learned how to love and how to receive love; both were painful processes.
  • I have learned that God is love; that we find the meaning of love through Him. I have learned that God defines love by sacrifice. It makes me wonder if I am willing to love God the way He loves me, or if I am willing to love other the way He loves them.
  • In this pursuit I have learned that being a living sacrifice is as impossible as it sounds. Thankfully, all things are possible with God.
  • I have learned that if the kingdom of Heaven is my home, then the kingdoms of earth are my mission. Our faith should not lead us to concern ourselves with escaping the world, instead it beckons the kingdom of Heaven to come, and to come soon.
  • I have learned that God’s grace should never grow old. Being human has shown me that sometimes it does. However, when it does God asks us to remember.
  • I have learned that remembrance is a daily process.
  • I have learned that when God is the center of your story, you are never alone.
  • I have learned that community is hard, but worth the effort.
  • I have learned that just because something is bigger than you does not mean it is good. We are to be Spirit-led, mindful, and critical of the ways of the world—the social ways, the political ways, and the religious ways; even our own religious ways.
  • I have learned that we are all sinners, and this should stop surprising us.
  • I have learned that we should not rationalize our faith to the extent that we no longer acknowledge or receive the mystery of Christ. Likewise, we must also not let the mystery of Christ affirm our laziness in seeking truth and wisdom. 
  • I have learned that God calls people and that He has called me.
  • I have learned that healthy families fight. They air they grievances and disagreements. Why do we expect anything different with the family of God, and where is our grace for our brothers and sisters of other traditions?
  • I have learned that I am quite capable of being wrong. I have also learned that I am quite capable of being right. However, I should primarily concern myself with being like Christ.
  • I have learned that God does not use me, He loves me.
  • I have learned that gratitude is the expression of a humble heart. That if I am struggling with being grateful it is probably because I am struggling with being humble.
  • Lastly, I have learned that responding to the call of God is the second most terrifying thing. The first is to be called and to not respond.

It is beside me to suggest that any of the above are purely true; that job is designated for God alone. What I am able to say is that these learnings are nevertheless honest realizations from a season of earnest seeking. I consider myself lucky to have spent the time I have in pursuit of teachers and lessons, but I have recognized that I need not go further than my own living-room to find someone teaching something. We are always being taught, be it by colleagues, friends, family, pastors, or by God, but it is our choice to learn. So, I wonder, what have you been taught and what have you learned?

Caleb McMillan
Caleb McMillanhttps://collective.tku.edu
Caleb McMillan is a recent graduate of The King's University. He earned his Bachelor of Christian Ministries.