Dig and Dump Religion

Mark 4:21-25

“and he said to them, pay attention to what you hear…” v. 24

I love teaching school. Seeing younger people learn and grow is exciting for me. I have to admit though, that there are times when I just have to laugh. One of those times is on test day. Students come into class no differently than I used to when I was taking tests. They come in repeating quotes and facts to themselves, hoping not to forget before time to write it down. I can always tell who has been learning the week before and who crammed last night because they haven’t touched their notes since they wrote them. The crammers are always anxious for me to hurry up and hand out the test. It’s a bit funny to watch my own high school career being played out before me. They, as I used to, have crammed all night, and probably got up early that morning, memorizing, rehearsing and praying; “Oh Lord help me remember those dates in history, or those vocabulary words! I’ll become a missionary if you’ll help me pass this test…” Then when they get to class, they plead: “Hurry Mr. Driskill, and hand out the test before I forget everything!” We both know that as soon as the test is over whatever they learned will be gone forever, lost in a sea of nothingness. I call it the dig and dump method. Wait until the last minute to begin studying, cram all night before the test, spit out the information on the paper, then dump it forever….and hope there isn’t a review test later. In my Spanish class I have seen students try to get through this way, learning just enough to pass the test, then dumping the information as soon as it’s over. But with Spanish, or any language, if you use the dig and dump method you will find yourself totally lost, buried under the weight of forgotten lessons as every lesson builds on the previous lesson. The dig and dump method may get you by a momentary test, but in the end you come out with nothing learned. Just a bunch of numbers in a grade book to show for a year of academic suffering. You may be okay getting through school like that, but don’t try the dig and dump method in the things of God. To do so, as many do, will always prove disastrous.

Jesus instructed his disciples: “Pay attention to what you hear; with the measure you use , it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has , more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (v.24-5)

In other words,  “The dig and dump method may get you through Spanish 2 but it won’t get you into the kingdom of God.” Are you using the dig and dump method with the things of God? In matters of faith, it’s not only important to hear and memorize truth, we have to incorporate it into our lives. Unfortunately too many of us have brought our dig and dump tactics out of the classroom and into the church house with us. Let me explain. The dig and dump method is based on a simple philosophy: “The only thing that matters is getting by. Making the grade. Passing the class. Forget learning, just rack up the numbers to get through.” I have even heard parents tell me, “Well, the only thing that matters is that my child passes the class.” –Not in my class!  And not in the kingdom of God. Here’s a list of examples of dig and dump religion. See if you recognize any. These are actual things people have said:

  1. “I want to have all my fun first, then when I get older I will repent and follow Jesus.”
  2. “I’m banking on a death bed conversion.” (this takes stupid to a whole new level.)
  3. “I just want to know enough to get my foot in heaven’s door.”
  4. “I went to church as a child. I know all those stories. But I don’t need it now.”
  5. ” I Know I haven’t been to church in awhile, but now I’m in a crisis and need God to get me through.” (until the crisis is over, then its business as usual.)

Friends, our Lord calls us as his disciples to go beyond getting by. You have to understand that the gospel is no game. It’s life or death. We’re dealing with eternity here. Jesus warns us that to play games with his truth will have eternally deadly consequences. He tells us that we must take his word beyond the surface of our memory and let it change how we live. He says, “be careful how you listen.” meaning that you must take his teachings and thoughtfully, prayerfully, incorporate them into your life. Anything less is dig and dump religion. If you take his word to heart and begin to live it out, you will find that “to him who has, more will be given.”

How sad it would be on the great day–the Final Exam to beat all final exams–to stand before God, trying to remember all the things you heard about him while in this life, hoping you can give the right answers in order to get to heaven. Wouldn’t be horrible to come to God pleading for another chance to take the test of life, because you wasted your life dumping what your soul needs the most? Wouldn’t it be tragic to say to the Lord, “But Lord, I went to summer camp! I attended church! I know all the stories!” only to hear him say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”?  How much better it will be if we commit ourselves to being the growing disciples he called us to be, and on that day hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. If you had a pop test today in eternity, would you pass or fail?

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