Blog - Doing Earthwork
God as TeacherTuesday, February 11, 2014
Some 5.5 million people in the U.S. taught preschool through college students in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But those who teach include corporate trainers, military instructors, plus uncounted others who help others reach new levels of knowledge, understanding, or skill. Teachers—like architects (see previous blog)—can trace the origins of their work in the eternal reality that God himself is a Teacher.
Job’s friend, Elihu, knew this: "God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him?” (Job 36:22). The Psalmist recognized that God had been his teacher since his earliest days (Ps. 71:17). And a promise through Isaiah assured God’s covenant people: "All your sons will be taught by the Lord. . . .” (Is. 54:13)
The New Testament not only presents God in this role, but also makes it clear that each member of the Trinity is a teacher. God the Father: "I [Jesus] do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” (Jn. 8:28) God the Son: "Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ.” (Matt. 23:10) God the Holy Spirit: ". . . the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things . . . .” (Jn. 14:26)
The work of teaching, then, is rooted not only in the need of young and older people to learn but beyond that in the activity of God himself. This dignifies teaching and boldfaces its importance. In 1924, G. K. Chesterton, in a column in the Illustrated London News, wrote, "Education is the soul of a society.” Teachers help a culture flourish by helping others grasp and build on what others have discovered.
God as teacher also means that those who teach may learn powerful instructional methods from the divine model. Consider the teaching of Jesus. He held listeners spellbound with stories—a wayward son welcomed home, a despised Samaritan who proved to be a good neighbor. He used vivid word-pictures—seeds, pearls, nets, towers. He used repetition: "Do you love me?” times three. He asked penetrating questions. "Who do you say I am?”
If you’re a teacher, you experience your share of frustrations. Students who don't pay attention. Administrators and regulators who impose impossible expectations. Lack of sufficient resources, including too-low salaries. And so on. Remember that Jesus, the teacher, didn’t have it easy, either. He once said to his learners (disciples), "Are you still so dull?” (Matt. 15:16) And on another occasion: "Do you still not understand?” (Matt. 16:9)
Has God given you the gift of teaching? If so, be encouraged. Your gift is one more reflection of having been made in the image of your Creator. Enthusiastically reflect him in your work.