Theory vs. Practice

A few days ago, someone asked me to verbally instruct her on how to make Starch (A Niger Delta delicacy often relished with Banga soup or Owo soup) and then I told her that I would have to show her practically, but that besides that, the consistency that is neither too hard or too soft can only be attained by some practice. As I said that, I smiled, remembering how I saw my mum and grand mum often measure the consistency of the starch and water mixture against the back of their palms to determine if it was good to go.

Another analogy,  let’s say you need a driver, here comes a well-spoken young man who understands all the principles of a car engine; from the hydraulics to the brake system but has never actually driven a car before vs. some probably semi literate driver who has been driving for years. Doesn’t really understand the mechanics of the car or the workings on the engine but knows how to drive a car safely from Point A to B, whom would you trust to drive you around? Surely the latter.

As a student, I remember how I preferred to be lectured by lecturers who had worked in industry at some point, their lectures were always more balanced and more interesting. The intermix of theory and practice always got to me and made the principles easier to understand and just seeing how they had deployed the book knowledge to everyday solutions made me more willing to appreciate, remember and apply.

The examples above and several others made me think about practice vs. head knowledge. Little wonder employers seem to put some premium on experience in addition to accumulated knowledge. Knowledge is not much good if it is not applied, how else does one know what really works and what doesn’t?  The more I thought about it and x-rayed my life; I realized that in some way, I had become an arm chair / head knowledge Christian.

Today, somehow, there is so much information around me, ‘7 principles of success’, ’10 benefits of giving’, ‘The power of prayer’, ‘The need for a life of holiness’, ‘The power of a life birthed in the Holy Spirit’ , ‘Loving and Forgiveness’ amongst others are examples of such information contained in books or derived from the many sermons I have been privileged to listen to, based on others experience and for me, contributing to my head knowledge. Every Sunday, infact, more often than that, I receive more information that adds up to my head knowledge and does me no good if I do not practice it.

As I think about it, I know I should pray and that there is power in prayer, I can reel out the benefits. But do I actually pray, fervently, at all times, with all kinds of prayer? Have I applied the principles of prayer in my daily life? How do I know when God speaks to me if I haven’t applied the principles of waiting and hearing from Him? What about the gifts of the Spirit? Why don’t I walk in them? Have I limited myself to knowledge alone without practice? Do I have pages and pages of sermon and bible study notes and yet fail to apply them? Have I become ever learning, never able to come to the knowledge of the truth? Hmm…It’s time to move away from head knowledge Christianity, I desire to actually walk in the things that I have learned, to apply them and enjoy the benefits therein. And then, that makes it easier for me to share the benefits that knowing God brings, because I have practiced them and experienced same first hand.

Just to encourage you to come along, let’s have a balanced experience of God, knowledge and practice. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (1 John 1:1). Jesus is the word of life, and if we have not experienced Him, we haven’t truly experienced salvation. That’s where the testimony lies,  when we have moved past hearing, to seeing and handling the word of Life.

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