Teachers are in the job of children learning and growing. But learning is an inherently human thing to do and designed before schools, registers and timetables were thought of.
In the classroom we are moving children on from one point of understanding, knowledge or skill all the time. A hand is likely to go up at some point where a kids asks, 'Why do we even have to learn this!?'. In the moment, we might give a range of answers, some with more frustration behind them than others. The diagram below outlines something of what we might say and how our education system is founded.
This is the pattern of how we all grow. It is human to do so! Babies take an interest in the sounds coming out of their parents mouths and learn. Bit by bit they find that communication is not only interesting but possible for them and useful for life. Children find the science experiments fun and interesting and, gradually learn to use that knowledge and the skills of enquiry and testing whether its in getting the central heating to work, keeping a house plant alive or researching atoms.
The Bible isn't silent on teaching and growing younger humans either.
We see Laban helping his son-in-law, Moses, to learn how to be a leader in Exodus 18, 'Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.' In Proverbs 22, we hear, 'Train up a child in the way he should go...' and we learn that it's biblically wise to do so. In the time of the Old Testament this may have not involved more than training in the field or domestic work that their parents did, nevertheless, the precedent is there
Jesus spent his time teaching and training his disciples and the wider populous, including children. Christians are called to learn and grow in God, not just the world. Which brings us to Paul in Philippians 1:9-11,
'And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.'
It's inherently human to learn and inherently Christian to learn and grow in God. It's what we're doing until we meet him one day, face to face. Paul's encouragement gives us some interesting details as outlines in the diagram below.
Because of our love for God, we'll want to learn more, he will be able to teach us even more and then we'll be able to apply it better to our lives. It's a great pattern but it's also a challenge, isn't it? On one hand this is the most natural thing for a Christian to do. On the other, learning and growing in God can seem like another job to do, another life aim we might feel like we fail at sometimes.
Thankfully, Paul reminds us, it's about love. our job is to love God and the rest will follow. That's Paul's chief prayer and it can be ours too. As we pursue the education of young minds and hope to train ourselves along the way to work and live better for God, let's remember to let our love abound in response to God. Just as we hope our students find our lessons interesting, God longs for us to love him first and let it all flow from there.
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