Celebrating Schoolteachers & Educators
By Pastor Pete Grassow
Our focus for the month is on the education of our children....
There are a number of education verses in the Bible. Today I will use three different quotes: Begin with the Book of Acts.
Act 13:1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Act 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
Act 13:3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on
them and sent them off.
I recently heard someone saying - "all religions are basically the same. It does not matter what you believe - as long as you love God and be kind to people". Which of course is right: in that we should all love God and love one another.
But at the same time is fundamentally wrong - because all religions do not believe the same things. But because many people think this - we take bits and pieces of faith and cobble them together to make up a faith that suits us:
So, for example: there are people who follow Jesus, but also believe that karma will get you in the end, and hang crystals in their windows to keep evil away - a mixture of Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, and the ancient religions of Egypt and Greece.
Those who first followed Jesus understood this - and were clear that we who are Christian should be taught our faith so that we do not wander off the path: Which brings me to our second education quote from the Bible: We find the following words of warning:
2Ti 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
2Ti 4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
...which might still be true today: because so many people seem to follow myths - better known as fake news. These are the people who have two sources of information: I saw it on Facebook: or I found it on Google.
Oh, and then the third source: I heard it from my friend - who saw it on the computer.
And the problem with this approach is that we never pause to ask the fundamental question of all education: do I have the research skills needed to separate truth from lies. All of which is based on the assumption that "I will know the truth when I see it".
the slogan of our age "Don't trust anyone - do your own research" - as if I know how to do my own research because I can read - or because I can click a mouse on the computer!
This is not the way of our Christian ancestors. They understood that people need to be taught. And they set aside teachers to do this: (Acts 13:1) which is recorded as having "prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul."
Here are the first teachers: Barnabas, Simeon, Manaen - and Saul (who becomes St Paul). To this list we can Pricilla, and Lydia and Timothy.
Here are the people who were qualified and accredited by the church to teach the faith. And ever since then we have a rich history of Christian teachers, which include names such as such as Origen of Alexandria, Augustine of Hippo, Catherine of Siena,
Martin Luther, John Wesley, William Barclay, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Rosemary Radford Reuther.
I would suggest that this is more than just teaching in church - forming our children extends to the teachers in schools, colleges and universities / the coaches on the sports fields / and the teachers of dance and music and art.
It is tough being a teacher right now. Teachers are confronted by people who have been educated by a YouTube video and use this to bring their anger and division about the teaching curriculum, and masks, and personal FaceBook philosophies. And they negate the training and experience of teachers. I am reminded of the story of I heard:
A mom calls out to her son "Harry! Wake up! You'll be late for school." The son replies, "Mom I don't want to go to school! The teachers and students hate me! Give me one reason I should go!" The mom says back, "You should go because you're the school principal!"
Today I am inviting us to pray for, and to encourage our School Principles, and teachers and educators, and Sunday School teachers and youth leaders. It is a tough time to be a teacher. Let us choose to encourage all who teach children - rather than to pile on yet more criticism.
That said - I want to take us one step deeper:
I want to point to our third education verse from the Bible:
1Jn 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
The real question is what standard do we use to test the truth: if I find myself confronted by a YouTube Video - or by the neighborhood expert...how do I test it? How do I ask "Is it true”?
If we follow Jesus - then test every teaching against the life and teachings of Jesus!
Study the life and actions of Jesus Listen to the teachings of Jesus.
Anything that crosses my path can be tested - out of all that I have learned about Jesus: would He have said this - or done this.
This is my test of truth.
To do that we need teachers to help us discern what Jesus said and did.
Sometimes we think that we can do this by ourselves: I can read the Bible - that is sufficient!
Remember: You are reading a 2000-year-old document/ from a different culture / in a completely different part of the world. Sometimes I wish that we did not have the Bible in English - because this makes us assume that we are reading about an English world - Jesus spoke English - Jesus was a white American:
Jesus spoke Arabic - lived in Palestine - was a Jew.
So, gather your resources: teachers who love Jesus - and have spent a lifetime learning from Jesus - and learn from them.
Our passage we started with: the church drew two men from the pool of teachers:
Act 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ''Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
Act 13:3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Teaching was not the possession of the group - teachers are to go out and teach:
If you have accumulated any knowledge - then go and teach it! Do ot sit in the smug satisfaction of knowing something - share it with someone else. Every one of us is capable of teaching one other person.
If you have heard anything worthwhile in my words - tell someone else!