My stepson is 12. He amazes me with his ability to quote lines he sees on movies and YouTube videos all the time! I watch him talk with his friends, and it’s like they’re talking in code using only quoted lines. I don’t mean short quotes; they use long quotes! His friends know the lines as well, so they can help him finish them or correct him if he makes a mistake.
At 12 he is starting to try to enter adult society. His struggle is learning that adults do not want to play film quote conversation games like his friends, so his contribution to the conversation is terribly awkward. I have seen him sit on the edge of the adult group and watch, waiting for his chance to join. When he finally takes a chance to speak, it is because something reminded him of a scene in a film. He will retell the events or quote the funny line while the adults politely listen, chuckle, and then move on with their conversation. Sometimes he the awkwardness and sometimes he doesn’t.
Isn’t that how we sometimes feel about Biblical integration? We build a lesson plan and then look it over, trying to find a way to insert Jesus into it creating questions like, “The Bible says in Matthew 5:13 that Christians should be the salt of the earth. The salt content of the Atlantic Ocean is 30 ppt (parts per thousand) and the salt content of the Pacific Ocean is 35 ppt…”
(Confession: I stole this question from a standardized test I took in 11th grade. Second confession: I blew off the test when I realized all the questions were formatted this way.)
Questions like these are awkward and inauthentic, desperately failing at biblical integration. So how do we build lesson plans that honor God by using His Word professionally and in a way that exalts the Word of the Lord instead of making it look terribly cheesy? Don’t add Jesus as an afterthought. As you write a lesson plan, Jesus must flow out naturally, and the only way to do that is being so immersed in Him that He daily flows out naturally in all parts of our lives.
There is something very valuable we can learn from my stepson’s 12-year old attempts at conversation. “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”. Absorb yourself in the Word so much that it is your first thought in every situation. Let the words of God be the first ones on your lips. See every subject and textbook through the lenses of God’s character and authority.
Know the stories. Know all of the stories. Do you know who Zelophehod or his daughters are? Find out! That is how well you should know the Bible. Read the genealogies. Read Revelation. Read the minor prophets. Don’t understand them? Join a Bible study focused on the stories or specific books. Volunteer to help or sit in on the elementary Sunday school. Every story is in the Bible for a reason. Even the stories of Nimrod, Tamar, and the young man running naked in the gospel of Mark. Read them!
Memorize scripture. Take a cue from my stepson and his friends. Memorize long portions of scripture, so it’s the first thing on your lips. The Psalmist understood the importance of this. Read Psalm 119 slowly (yes, the whole thing). Then read it again. Every time the psalmist uses the words law (and its synonyms) or word replace it with Bible or scripture.
I have hidden your word [Bible] in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Can you say with integrity that you are doing this?
Meditate on the character of God. My stepson thinks about movies so much that he can’t have a conversation without bringing them up. He believes movies are applicable to every topic under the sun. May our intensity be the same with our understanding of the character of God. His grace, justice, truth, redemption, love, and more must be our first response to each situation.
The more practice my stepson has with adult conversation, the better he will get at participating in it. He will figure out how to connect his interests in ways that are appropriate and engaging. The same rules apply to Biblical integration. The Lord will bring His Word to your mind as you prepare lesson plans, and he will train you. Your job? Be obedient. You won’t get it right every time, but practice helps. So be bold! Join the conversation! “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…”
Mobilization Coach (and former English teacher)