Thursday, April 20, 2017

Teaching: Know the Lord

What does it mean for a Christian to teach?  Is it making people to know facts of theology that they can regurgitate upon demand to demonstrate their bona fides?  Is it telling them what they need to do in order to be living the sanctified life?  These tend to be the de fact positions that we fall to in the English speaking world as of late.

However, I'd argue that the Scriptures put forth a different goal, a different emphasis in what teaching *is* within the Church.  Consider the following verse - Jeremiah 31:34 (and also quoted in Hebrews 8:11): And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

This is the image we have of teaching, one emphasized in both old and new testaments - to make people "know" the Lord.  From Yada, from Gnosko - to know... but not just in the sense of being aware of, but of experiencing, of seeing and participating in.  To "know" in this sense is to participate in the reality of something.

For example - I've never be to the Taj Mahal.  I am aware that it exists, but I don't know it, I have experienced being there.  I have, however, been to the Pyramids of Giza.  I've touched them, leaned upon them.  I know them in a completely different way than simply being aware that there is such a thing called a pyramid.  With the Taj Mahal their is an eidos - and idea of the thing.  With the pyramids there is gnosis - there is experiential knowledge.

So what does that have to do with anything?  Teaching is not about getting ideas straight, nor is it a matter of making your listeners jump through the proper holy hoops.  Instead, it is giving them knowledge, it is giving them and bringing them into the reality of who God is and what God does for them.  This is the move Jeremiah and Hebrews make - to know the Lord is to receive forgiveness.  They will all have known God for they receive forgiveness.

Knowing is a receptive thing.  It's not an active endeavor of my own organization or my own activity - but rather I "take it all in".  Stop and smell the roses.  Or if you don't like modern euphemisms, be still and know that I am the Lord.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received; that Christ died for our sins...

Do you see the movement?  Teaching is not fostering mere repetition, nor is it fostering pious responses.  It is not a mere dead orthodoxy, nor is it pietism - nor is it the 21st century hideous love child of the two where you demonstrate your "orthodoxy" with pietistic virtue signaling letting people know you hate all the right things and the right people (or would that be the wrongs things and the wrong people).

Teaching is giving Christ for the remission of sins. 
Teaching is "Peace be with you" - because that is the highest truth and reality in the world.
Teaching is absolving.
Teaching is declaring the love of God, how He has loved you in giving Christ for your sake.

Know the Lord.

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