Misdirected Zeal

The word student is a big part of what defines this period of my life. One night last year, I was lying in bed, unable to sleep because of one persistent thought: I want to be a student of God. I believe there are two different ways “student” in this statement can be interpreted. Let me explain:

Example 1: The word God as a teacher; being a student of Dr. So-and-so.

Because we generally think of God as a person — which He is — this example may be the initial idea that came to mind when you read what I thought, but this is not exactly it. Being a person’s student has the potential to be superficial. Depending on the teacher, you may learn absolutely nothing about who he is; you simply learn all about the subject being taught. Yes, I want God to teach me things, but that’s not what I want most, and that’s not all I want.

Example 2: The word God as the subject being taught; being a student of psychology.

Psychology is my major. I thoroughly enjoy it. I want to learn the ins and outs of it. I want to know how it works and why it works. I want to know about the people who have contributed to it and how I can be one of those people — how I can become good at it. I want to personally know experts in the field and understand it beyond the textbooks. I’m passionate about the subject

The Bible makes it clear that it’s not enough to just have a desire for God or to feel something emotional for Him. Proverbs 19:2 says, “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (ESV). Paul said in Romans 10:2, “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge” (NIV), and the NLT calls it “misdirected zeal.” As we learn more about Him, we begin to truly know Him, and our emotions and passion for Him become better directed. In most relationships, it seems that the more we know about someone, the better we really know who he is as a person. Wouldn’t the same be true of knowing our God?

I believe we should cultivate a desire to study and know God in this way — to want to be students of God then actually do it. To want to study Him. To learn the ins and outs of who He is. To know how He works and why He works. With such a desire, we can learn all about the people who He has used to contribute to His beautiful story and become one of those people. We begin to surround ourselves with, and personally know, others who know Him well. We can better understand Him beyond the words and books about Him. We should desire to be passionate about Him.

And in that respect, I think I’m OK with “student” defining me right now and for it to keep defining this aspect of life. 

What are your thoughts about studying God as a subject rather than only as our teacher?  

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