By Gary L. Fiscus
My wife told me that two first graders came into the school library. Both children had notes pinned to their clothing. When asked what the notes said, the two replied that they did not know what they were for, or who they were to! They were not the least bit curious.
When I was a child, kids slapped stickers on each other’s backs. They read, “Kick Me,” or some such thing. If I were wearing a note pinned to my shirt, I would surely want to know what it said! Seemingly, these little ones could not care less.
In the Saturday Evening Post (Vol. 256, No. 8, November 1984), Dr. Lewis Thomas writes an article: “Making Science Work!” It is prefaced by a subtitled statement, “We need . . . the brightest and youngest of our most agile minds, capable of dreaming up ideas not dreamed before . . .”
He writes of scientists who are up against barriers. Those barriers come from people saying, “. . . give it back . . . it doesn’t really work, we’ve tried it and it doesn’t work, go back 300 years and start again on something else less chancy for the race of man.” Dr. Thomas, of course, refutes such a postulation.
Now consider the parallel of the above paragraphs. What have they in common? A need for young people to activate curiosity; and the apparently void, empty, and mundane mind of some young persons who could care less about knowing what is going on!
Please understand that I am not categorizing all young people as being devoid of curiosity. Many kids are curious, and they show it. I am concerned, however, when anyone, young or old, develops such a status quo acceptance of anything that comes his way. Let’s look at this problem from a Christian’s point of view.
The child of God understands his search for spiritual development is based on “the old paths” of God’s word (Jer. 6:16). He knows nothing will change as far as the authority is concerned. In Ecclesiastes 1:9, Solomon advises “there is nothing new under the sun.” We, as Christians, recognize our finite knowledge and wisdom as men compared to the infinite intellect and wisdom of Jehovah. The Hebrew writer says:
In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us (Heb. 6:17-18).
His Word “framed the world” (Heb. 1:2).
Consider, just here, however, the real importance of curiosity. What if the Christian was not curious about that Word? He would not grow. He would stagnate. He would die. Therefore, even though God’s Word is confirmed (Heb. 2:3-4; Mk. 16:20; Jude 3; etc.), man must be curious enough to investigate what it says. His “mind is (always) centered on things above” (Col. 3:2), but he constantly strives through investigation to better his relationship to God.
Let’s consider preachers especially. A man aspires to preach the gospel of Christ. By most standards he is pursuing an admirable profession. This man, however, is not curious about what God’s Word says. He is just going to give a speech; yell in a few places; throw in some Scripture and “tickle the ears of his hearers.” He starts. A note pinned to his chest states: “I can preach. I know how. Just ask me.” Well, you ask him. He cannot reply because he knew the note was there, but he didn’t know what it said; and he was never curious enough to rind out. All he knew was that he was supposed to be a preacher, but he never “searched the scriptures” to rind “eternal life” (Jn. 5:3 1; Acts 17:11).
“Absurd,” you say? Not so. Some preachers today are evidently relying on outline books, and theological philosophers to carry them. There are several good sermon outline books. I have used them. They are useful in their proper place, and I am grateful for the men with the ability to write them. On the other hand, they can be detrimental to a student who should be “searching the scriptures” and finding God’s information “from scratch.”
Recently I have been working with a young man who desires to preach the gospel. He has the ability. He has the (Bible) knowledge. He works hard. He recently received a call from a congregation to do some part-time preaching for them. In studying for his first two sermons, we had two day’s notice in which to prepare. He had an outline he had heard some preacher deliver. He had taken his own notes and wanted to “work it up himself.” He did, and he delivered it well.
While pondering the future and the essence of time in preparing lessons, I pointed to my bookshelf and said, “Now these are my cheaters.” “What?” came the reply. “My cheaters,” I repeated, “when I get caught unprepared, i.e., without a new sermon, I look up an outline in one of those books. I don’t like to them but justify myself with some excuse. I change a title, insert some preached. studied, Scriptures, invert some points, and call it mine! That, my friend, is cheating!”
In short, I have cheated myself to be curious because I allowed some other problem, challenge, entertainment, etc., enough ourselves to take priority that week. My curiosity lay dormant in matters of to study “searching the scriptures.” I have not utilized my “youthful,” “agile,” for ourselves! “dreamer’s” mind to curiously seek Jehovah’s truths.
What about your mind in search for truth? Do you let it idle in neutral as pertaining to Bible study? Do you accept what the elders, preacher, class teacher, or fellow-student says without question? Do you study on your own? Is the only time you read your Bible in a class or during a sermon? I am concerned that many in the church are believing what men say the Bible says, rather than studying the Bible on their own. I am not against classes. I am not against commentaries. I believe, however, we need refreshing. We need the word preached, studied, believing, accepted. We need to be curious enough ourselves to study for ourselves!
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 4, pp. 112-113
February 21, 1985