So, I’ve written two posts recently about the importance of teaching through shared life experiences (i.e., demonstrating what it means to follow Jesus Christ) and about the implications of this kind of teaching for the gathering of the church.
But, there’s another form of “teaching” that the modern church relies on heavily. And, unfortunately, this kind of teaching is even more removed from a shared life than the teaching that goes on when the church gathers.
What teaching am I talking about? The “teaching” that is available through books, articles, essays, and even blog posts! Yes, I’m including my own blog posts in this category.
As little as we sometimes know about the life of the person who teaches when the church gathers, we usually know even less about the person who wrote the book, article, essay, or blog post that we are reading. (Yes, I know that there are a few fortunate readers here who actually know me in real life…)
However, think about how often we drift toward this kind of teaching… What do we do when a couple is struggling in their marriage? Recommend a book. What do we do when someone wonders which Bible translation they should read? Point them to a magazine article that lists the pros and cons of each translation. What do we do when someone disagrees with us? Point them to a blog post that explains our position.
Obviously, books, essays, articles, blog posts, etc. can be effective means of communicating information. But, remember, we’ve already discovered that in Scripture teaching goes far beyond communicating information. If that information is separated from shared life experiences, then very little teaching is actually taking place. (By the way, you can also include podcasts – audio and video – in this category as well.)
So, what can we do? We live in an information age. We are inundated with information, including information about God, people, the church, etc. Why, there is more information on this blog alone than I care to read or could possibly process…
It would be completely impossible to try to separate ourselves completely from this kind of information transfer. Instead of attempting to stop the flow of information, we should seek to live it in community with others. That’s right… live it. When we are confronted with new information, bring it into the community and decide whether to and how to live accordingly together.
Remember, if you can’t live it together, then you are not learning it anyway.
When you begin to live it together, don’t put the emphasis on what “so-and-so” said or how “such-and-such” explained it. Put the focus where it belongs: what God is doing in and through his children – including in and through you. This is the power of teaching in lives that are shared with one another in Jesus Christ.
The power is not in the books, articles, or blog posts – even wonderfully crafted and completely true blog posts such as those you read here. The power is in the work of Holy Spirit in his children as you share your lives with one another.