So, I’ve already admitted that my first “semester” in Bible Study Fellowship was more about obedience than anything else — and that I grew to wonder whether or not this rather disciplined Bible study was a good fit for me.
By mid-summer I found myself hoping that I’d get the call inviting me back to the study. I didn’t really know all that was involved in the decisions about who gets in and who doesn’t — I just knew that there was no guarantee.
(This may disturb some of you. I asked questions about it over time and am satisfied that the policies that govern how people are selected for the class are consistent with the stated purposes and core values of BSF. They set standards for who can be a discussion group leader and for the sizes of those groups for example. If there aren’t enough leaders, then there is a waiting list.)
I got in a few weeks late (waiting for discussion leaders to be in place) and fairly quickly made some friends in my discussion group. Connecting with a few people and having conversations after class as we walked to our cars helped me engage in the whole process more. In time, though, I began to experience the value of BSF’s four-fold approach and even the rules that had initially made me a little crazy.
What changed? Well, I’d had a newbie discussion leader that first year — new to BSF and new to the Faith, so she’d not yet grown comfortable in finding a balance between rules and grace. The second year I had a discussion leader who was a little older and a little more comfortable in the role. And I had a few relationships that were simple but real and that’s always nice. But mostly, I was changing. I was paying more attention to what God was saying in His Word and less attention to all the stuff that doesn’t matter (like church meeting rooms that smell like church basements or the way the teaching leader peered over her reading glasses). I was more concerned about God’s expectations of me than my expectations of others.
What caused this change? It wasn’t a magic pill. And it did not happen over night. I began to experience something I’d experienced before in my life but something that had been lost in transition — the power of the Word of God and of the Spirit of God working in my heart and mind when I quit fighting. I was being renewed.
Funny thing was, until I got into a place where I was put under the “pressure” of rules and discipline, I didn’t see the (let’s call it what it is) rebellion in myself. It was masked somehow.
More about the 4-fold approach and those rules next time.