Sermon Series ~ July/August 2008
“The Content Of Our Character: Living Into The Way Of
July 6, 2008: Lifelong Learning
Proverbs 1:1-9 & 2 Timothy 3:10-18
by Pastor Allen V. Harris
~ Sermon OUTLINE only ~
Introduction To Sermon Series
Wording of Series is from Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Have A Dream"
speech: Address at March on Washington, August 28, 1963. Washington,
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the
content of their character.
- Why this series? You asked for it!
- What I won’t do:
> Elementary School “Character Ed.” (for example: Respectful,
Trustworthy, A Good Citizen, Caring, etc.) You should have learned these
> “One Size Fits All” list. Lists are important, but the Bible is filled
with stories of people trying to live out what lists mean.
Today’s Theme: Lifelong Learning
VS Lifelong Learning
- What we’re up against:
> Graduation is seen as an end in itself, and not a transition to more
> Bumper-sticker theology: “God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It”
IS NOT acceptable. God doesn’t demand we turn off our brain to be
> Idolization of the “M.Div.” (Master Of Divinity Degree) in the
mainline church; there are many ways to faithfully and intentionally
mature in our faith.
Metaphor: Lifelong Learning as a Scavenger Hunt
I remember a great scavenger hunt in the children’s mystery book,
“The Mystery On The Isle Of Skye” by Phyllis A. Wheatley
Lifelong learning is like this: There is wisdom placed by God everywhere
along our journeys; and each new learning leads us to even more wondrous
and life-giving discoveries – if we but seek them out!
Resources For Lifelong Learning:
- The Bible
> God’s constant call to grow, develop, become…
> Rabbi Jesus teaching to the end…
> “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet…”
> Spiritual Food/Solid Food metaphors used by the Apostle Paul
> Confession and Repentance central to our faith
*vs “flip-flop”/certainty rhetoric of our current culture, esp.
Presidential Campaigns. If we cannot allow people – especially our
highest leaders – to change their minds and grow from their learnings,
then confession and repentance is worthless rhetoric! We must allow
people to grow in wisdom, which means to allow them to change their
Our Christian tradition is full of examples of lifelong learning:
> John Robinson: “… the Lord had more truth and light yet to break forth
out of his holy Word.”
> Gracie Allen: “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”
- Disciples of Christ
> Alexander Campbell, key founder of the Christian Church (Disciples of
Christ), was completely committed to lifelong learning.
-- he preached, wrote & published books and journals, debated, founded
-- It was once said that the reason our denomination didn’t have bishops
was because we had editors!
-- Quote from the founding of Bethany College
Education is, therefore, a theme perfectly transcendental, possessing
paramount claims on the patriot, the philanthropist, the philosopher and
the Christian. It comprehends in its premises the development of creator
and creature, heaven and earth, time and eternity, in full and perfect
adaptation to the cultivated and capabilities of man.
True, and lamentably true it is, that few--comparatively very few,
indeed, have the capacity, the patience, the perseverance, the taste and
the means adequate to its acquisition and consummation; and, equally to
be regretted is the fact, that larger and more liberal provisions are
not made for its extension and perfection, both by the State and the
Church; as to both it is the greatest known or conceivable auxiliary.
But cannot education become an idol itself?
- The anti-clericalism of the early Disciples of Christ was not
anti-Lifelong Learning, but against Educational Elitism. There is a big
- Lifelong Learning includes many things:
> academics, reading books or magazines, church school, home study,
> essentially the priesthood of all believers requires an informed and
> but NO approach to education should be esteemed/pitted against
> God-Blessed Perfect Example: Ada Smith – a true Life Long Learner! Her
neice, Deidre Gogolin, said, “She didn’t finish high school, but with
all the reading she did “she had the equivalent of three PhD’s.” Ada
wrote about herself, “With so many books and mags I’ve bought, that
keeps me interested. I always was (still am) a ‘Book-a-Holic.” And after
telling me she didn’t have a radio or television, she wrote, “But
really, I don’t miss neither radio nor T.V. Give me my books and I’ll be
Practically Speaking: How to be a Lifelong Learner?
- See life as a wonderful Scavenger Hunt!
- As a pastor, I try to model my pathways of education
- You find your own pathways of education… every day of your life! “We
have gifts that differ according to the grace [and opportunities] given
- Do I expect you to do what I do? NO!
- What do I expect?
Expectation of Discipleship:
> Go to Sunday School
> Or Teach a Sunday School class
> Go to Bible Study (more than 1 person makes a study)!
> READ! At whatever level and pace… READ!
- Examples from my Study & Renewal Leave:
> School for Christian Living @ Church of the Savior, Washington, DC
> Core Classes (including “City Matters”) @ The Sanctuary, Minneapolis
Conclusion: “A faithful Christian IS a Lifelong Learner!”
(1) Alexander Campbell, CORNER-STONE ADDRESS OF BETHANY COLLEGE On the
10th of December, 1857, the College building was burned. On May 31st the
corner-stone of the new building was laid, with the following address,
appearing in vol. 1858, page 362:
Rev. Allen V. Harris
Franklin Circle Christian Church
Copyright 2008 -- The Rev. Allen V. Harris
Franklin Circle Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ)
1688 Fulton Rd., Cleveland, OH 44113-3096