Saturday, December 23, 2017

One Teacher, Multiple Lessons

When one teaches, two learn.  (Robert Half)

21 Jesus and his companions now arrived at the town of Capernaum and on Saturday morning went into the Jewish place of worship—the synagogue—where he preached. 22 The congregation was surprised at his sermon because he spoke as an authority and didn’t try to prove his points by quoting others—quite unlike what they were used to hearing! (Mark 1:21-22 TLB)

They say any teacher really has to learn the subject matter prior to teaching it themselves. Does that mean I perfectly "get" every lesson down pat before I teach it and can replicate it time and time again without variation? Not hardly! It does means I learn a little more each time I teach it, though! It means I come closer to replicating the lesson without variation each time I revisit that lesson. It means there has been growth to some degree in my life. I am human, so my teaching isn't always my own - sometimes I reteach what I have learned from others - things that spoke truth into my life and helped me to grow in some area. Jesus taught from his own knowledge - because he is ALL knowledge. He surprised the people by his authority because they had never heard or seen anyone with so much "true" authority. As "ambassadors" of the message of truth God gives to each of us, we embody truth in some degree, based on how much of the lesson we have allowed to be worked out in our lives.

God's Word often "surprises us" no matter how many times we have heard or read the same passages. Why is that? I think it might just be that at certain times in our lives we are more "open" to it, seeing it through a different "lens" and therefore, we "get it" a little differently or clearer each time we are exposed to it. Does that mean the first "lesson" was not taught well? No, it just means we were open to learning it a different way, or to a different degree of understanding, the second or third or fourth time around. It doesn't make the first learning opportunity flawed in anyway because all learning is incremental. We don't become versed in quantum physics overnight! We first have to understand a little bit about particles - neutrons and protons. Then we have to understand how they react to each other, rely upon one another, act when in an electromagnetic field, etc. Right about at the point I said "neutrons and protons", I lost about half of you! Why? You have no desire or "need" to learn quantum physics!

Sometimes the lessons we are open to learning are those we need to learn the most. This is why scripture comes "alive" at times for us and at others that same passage is "good", but not as "rich" as it is when we need it most. Learning isn't about the "degree" to which we learn the lesson, it is about the openness of mind and heart to actually absorb and act upon what we are learning. The simplest lessons have been some of the richest and most meaningful in my own life. The more "grandiose" ones were good, but they didn't bring life change to the same degree some of the simpler ones did. To have learned what grace really is and what it truly does in my life - that was a harder lesson to learn, but in incremental steps, I have moved closer and closer to understanding the truth about grace. I have discovered no amount of "self effort" makes me right with God. No amount of "being good" is going to get me one step closer to heaven's doors. No "work" I do helps me overcome sin. All steps toward God are grace steps. All steps out of sin are there because God laid the paving stones of grace to help me walk away from it. 

We can learn at different paces, in different seasons, and in many different ways. The way we learn isn't too different, though. It occurs when we are "opened up" to learn. Sometimes this opening of ourselves is quite natural because there is a curiosity that drives us. At others, we need a little nudging because we don't exactly see ourselves as needing that lesson. Either way, the most instrumental way we come into knowledge is by realizing the authority of the one who is teaching that lesson - Christ! Just sayin!