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Thursday, 5 November 2015

"Real" teaching!

The English-speaking fellowship with which my wife and I are associated here in France, is trying to be as inclusive as it can.   I am not sure that I agree fully with that aim, but I do understand (I think!) what they are trying to do.   It has to do , I suspect, with what we refer to as "ownership" - allowing people to have some input to the decision-making process in order to avoid any sense of a few 'dictating' to the rest!

As part of this process we were invited, recently, to make suggestions, on Post-it notes, as to what we liked; what we didn't like; and what we would like to see happening; in Café Church.  I quite deliberately did not look at what anyone else had written. but I was informed that someone had placed, on the "What I would like" sheet, "Real teaching" (underlining in the original!).

It's an interesting comment.  What does it mean?  Well, one would have to ask the author what (s)he meant but, as the slips were posted anonymously, that would not be easy.  However, I think that reference was being made to the difference, in Biblical teaching, between milk and meat.  Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, has this to say to them: "But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ.  I fed you with milk , not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?" (I Cor 3:1-3).  The Lord Jesus, in answer to a question by a lawyer, said: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment." (Matt 22:37-38).    Did you notice?  He included the mind - that with which we think!

That, I would contend, is a problem in much of the "western" church.  Too many people want - and too many speakers oblige! - pleasant little homilies; something that will massage our own egos; soft words that leave us feeling nice and cosy!  What is needed is some teaching on the basic doctrines of the New Testament; exposition of the whole of the Bible; encouragement to study the Word of God for ourselves!   Perhaps that is what someone in Café Church is seeking!

We in the "west" live in a culture of instant gratification.  Whatever it is, I want it, and I want it now, and I want it with as little effort on my part as possible.  That is not, however, the way by which we grow as disciples of Jesus!   That requires work on our part, and a willingness to be open to God the Holy Spirit as He applies what we learn to our own lives!  It requires using our minds, and following the example of the Jews of Beroea who, when they heard Paul and Silas preach, "... received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (Acts 17:11).

May it be that pastors and preachers will provide "real" teaching from platform or pulpit.  May it be that people will; respond to that teaching by using it as a springboard for their own private and personal study of the Word.

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