I fret sometimes after one of my posts goes live about saying the wrong thing or if some might consider my words to be controversial or offensive. And then I am reminded by God’s gentle voice of the reason for this desire, the need, to share words with others. What started as a way to help us grow more compassionate toward others has become a journey of discerning how we live this amazing gift of life as living, breathing participants in the prayer ‘Your will be on earth as in heaven.” I have learned that when I read or hear something that makes me bristle and immediately say, “that’s wrong” or “what do they know” that I need to read or listen to the words even more closely because often my reaction is uncovering an unknown bias or learning edge in me. I may not agree with or accept what I’ve read but really listening to other points of view help me know my point of view more clearly and it helps me be more compassionate toward others.
In the last moments before ascending to be at God’s right hand, Jesus commissioned the disciples saying, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age” (Matthew 28:18-20). This is what is passed on to us, through all of the generations of believers of this present age, so that we can continue the continuous line of succession of discipling, baptizing, and teaching others to walk the Way of Love.
We are to be a Living Sunday School, revealing to all we encounter by our very lives the love of God. As any good teacher will tell you, however, true teaching means we are also in a continuous state of learning. Teaching and learning cannot be separated and both are continuous, life-long actions. In the moment we say to ourself, “I’ve learned all I need to learn,” we stop living fully. Once I decide my ‘knowledge’ is complete, I must fight against anything that threatens or contradicts my certitude.
In the new Friday Feature I posted this past Friday as I told the brief story of my own separation and convergence of science and faith, it occurred to me how similar the processes of scientific learning and faith formation are. The enemy of both is certainty. The process of science involves the continuous collection and observation of new information to analyze and test what we know. When new information changes things it doesn’t mean we were wrong to begin with; it means we’ve grown in our knowledge and adjusted accordingly.
Our faith is the same. Believing that Jesus is Lord isn’t about a static moment in time but about growing and maturing in our relationship with God throughout our whole life, just as we would in any healthy relationship. Jesus tells us that we must become like children, not childish but childlike with an openness to learning and in a continual state of growth and development. What Jesus doesn’t say is anything about how to determine we are ‘fully grown’ as his followers. He doesn’t define a curriculum plan to get the degree or certificate that proves we’re done with our studies but says ‘be like children and follow me’.
Following Jesus is a relational way of life, The Way of Life, living as God intends us to live, the life God created us for as beloved children. Following Jesus is a continuous learning journey as we discover more and more how to love like Jesus.
What have you been learning and discovering along the journey lately?