Experiential learning: The process of learning through experience.
I was impatient with corporate “team building,” which often included “experiential learning” that had, to me, little applicability. The value of a ropes course totally escaped me. (Well, I did learn that I didn’t want to do that again…)
To be fair, I can recall a few exercises that illuminated both knowledge and action. But…not the ropes course!
And, given my many years in school, my love of education, what I often really want is to know what spiritual course I’m in, when the test is scheduled, and to receive a letter grade. And, then, to neatly store my books and notes.
I want to know when I’ve completed the basics and moved on to a higher-level course. I want to be tested on what I know.
Multiple choice tests would be fine; essay exams okay.
But practical exams?
Growth Requires Experiential Learning
Our growth as Christians requires experiential learning.
And God, who knows everything about us, who knows how He is shaping us, is the all-knowing, all-powerful experiential learning master teacher.
God is “into” experiential learning. That isn’t to say knowledge is unimportant, because it is. We are to grow in the knowledge and love of God. And there is nothing so practical as good theory, as good theology.
But if we don’t put what we know into practice, we have failed.
Understanding is only evident when there is action.
Faith without works is dead. (See James 2:14-26)
The mark of a mature Christian is partly knowledge, being able to handle the word of God accurately (2 Timothy 2:15), but is shown, is proved, through behavior.
We will come to the judgment seat of Christ where we will receive awards based on what we do in this life. What we do. It won’t be a theological exam, but a review of many practical exams. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
“You get to know the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by studying God’s self-revelation, the Bible, and following Him. His Word says as we obey, we grow in knowledge. A wonderful cycle is one of the blessings of obedience: Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [so you] please Him in all respects [so you] bear fruit in every good work [so you] increase in the knowledge of God. (Colossians1:9-12) Then we know Him better, and because we know Him more, we love Him more, so we keep His commandments better. And then because we are keeping His commandments, we know Him, more.” (page 16, When Storms Come: Will You Be Ready?)
“If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.” (John 7:17)
Testing is an Experiential Learning Exercise
There are examples in both the Old and New Testaments of testing, and at least hints about the results.
Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, … and said to him, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Genesis 22:1,12)
Israel in the Wilderness
Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:20)
the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:3)
This He was saying to test Philip, for He Himself [Jesus] knew what He was intending to do. (John 6:6)
Outcomes of God-Designed Experiential Learning
Christians are being refined as silver
The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests hearts. (Proverbs 17:3)
For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. (Psalm 66:10)
The testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:3)
Glory to God
[Trials] so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:7)
We must gain knowledge and practice applying the knowledge of God in our lives.
Ask for experiential learning!
~~~Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23–24)
Gain knowledge with the intent to apply it.
We gain knowledge by studying the Bible. It is there that God reveals Himself, where we can learn about Him, His character, His ways of doing things, His instructions to us.
And it is there we can see how others have behaved, successfully—or not—applying the knowledge and love of God. We see models to imitate and behaviors to avoid.
Plan to apply your knowledge of God and His instructions. One of the put downs of college professors is that they live in ivory towers, meaning that they are full of knowledge that they haven’t put into action. There are a lot of Christians trying to live in ivory towers, but God won’t let us get by with it. Either we apply it or we don’t.
As you develop our “to do” lists for the day (See What Are Your Plans Today), add plans to demonstrate your faith.
Think about, for example, how you can, this day, show your love for other Christians, or how you can, this day, calm your anxious heart by relying on God’s loving sovereignty.
Deliberately, purposefully, intentionally, practice applying your knowledge of God.