Why Teaching and Learning Matters to GodPolly Murphy
God is interested in what we know and understand, and from the beginning of creation has been revealing himself to us. How incredible that the God of the universe wants to show us and tell us who He is, and how He works. He even went to the great lengths of sending Jesus to earth in human form to be His perfect representation, (Hebs 1: 3) to model himself to us, and to teach us. He has revealed Himself through creation and wants to share with us all that He has made and designed.
Jesus as the great Rabbi
In Hebrew Rabbi means ‘teacher’ or ‘master’. Jesus spent a great deal of his ministry teaching people. Think about all the times Jesus gathered a large crowd of people who were eagerly engaged in what he had to say. Ask any teacher and they’ll tell you what a great feat this is! Jesus’s teaching must have been so compelling. Consider how he used parables to help people really grapple with, and understand, what he was teaching. These simple stories used real-life situations and experiences that revealed deeper moral and spiritual truths. Jesus’s concern for people is that we know and understand what he has to say. Learning is not only about knowing information but understanding and applying that information in life. Jesus is our master teacher.
Us as the learners
The books of Proverbs and Psalms urge and implore us to be learners – those who acquire knowledge and heed instruction. Consider the following verses:
In this Psalm, David is filled with wonder that God wants to share who He is with us. He imagines how – somehow! – God made all that he sees above him, and pictures God crafting the moon and stars into the night sky.
He gives us minds and emotions to make sense of what He shares with us. What is more, He makes us creative, capable of seeing and making new things.
God has put inside of us an instinct to learn.
We see this clearly in children. They are curious not just to know what but why as well, and they will boldly ask things over and over in order to find out what they want to know. Even in the Psalms, David says, ‘You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you’ (Psalm 8:2). There is something in the instinctive expressions of a child that expresses God and who He made us to be.
God made us to be curious. Just like little kids.
Essentially the Bible is our supernatural textbook. God has documented and breathed truth into the pages of Scripture in order to connect with his people and to teach us His way.
While we might find it easy to see how and why God is so deeply invested in teaching us about Himself, connecting this to why education would matter to him might seem like a stretch. But when we consider the fact that the recipients of that education are as God-breathed as the scriptures themselves we might find a deeper vested interest in seeing schools and our education system reformed.
God’s heart for justice and the marginalised
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s care and concern for those who are oppressed and marginalised. In Leviticus 19:9-10 we see God write into law that the Israelites should not harvest right to the edge of their fields. The outer edges were to be left for those who were socio economically disempowered, and for those who were foreigners in the land. This provision meant that those who were marginalised could glean what they needed and not go hungry. Psalm 82: 3-4 says that we are to “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Embedded into the way of life that God calls us to, is care and concern for those who are marginalised.
In the New Testament James calls us to not discriminate against the poor. The church was showing partiality to those who had wealth by giving them the best seats. Those who had less were told to stand or sit on the floor. The tendency for us to over value wealth is something to watch in our hearts. We’re also called to be those who put our concern for the marginalised into action. 1 John 3: 17-18 says that “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” God loves us with action. He saw us at our very worst and yet loved us by sending His Son to live amongst us, die at our hand, and to deal with our sin once and for all.
God’s love for people (and little children)
1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. His very nature and character is love. He “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It is God’s love for people and his desire for them to know Him that moved Him.
As we’re focusing on education and schooling in particular, it is also helpful to see the way that Jesus interacts with little children. In a society that did not go out of their way to include children, we see Jesus welcome, engage with, and stand up for children, which is staggering given the historical context he lived in. In Matthew 18:1-5 Jesus tells the disciplines that children are the ‘greatest in the kingdom of heaven’. This would have been very unexpected. He welcomes and serves those who society doesn’t value – and by serving children, we serve God.