Template and Teacher
I keep feeling pushed to write about “listening for God,” so here I am again, encouraging you and me to listen for God’s messages. How do we listen? I wish we had special God headphones to slide on.
I am reminded of an experience many years ago. I was given the responsibility in my teaching career to evaluate “Drafting” assignments. I knew nothing about it. My task involved laying a master drawing template over the student’s work. Immediately, every mistake was revealed. Evaluating meant drawing a bright red diagonal line through every spot where the student’s lines veered away from the master. The template revealed mistakes, but did nothing to help the student understand what had led them in the wrong direction. For that, their teacher was required. He would sit down with each student and work through their process.
In my Lenten study guide, Debbie McMillan spoke about overlaying our lives with the divine words of God as a template. When it comes to listening to God’s messages, we can easily see where we have veered away on our journey. An easy example is the “Ten Commandments.” It’s easy to see that stealing veers away from the Commandment not to steal. But we need to understand the reasons behind the action. Just as in the drafting, we need a teacher to help us understand the words of the Bible, learn and do better. As Christians, Jesus is our teacher. He exemplified forgiveness and unconditional love for all people. He tempered his belief in the law, keeping its Spirit rather than its letter, to help us to hear God’s words for us.
We need to have eyes tempered with Jesus’ love, and forgiveness. It’s easy to believe that someone is worshipping the god of work or hockey. We need, however, to consider our great teacher’s words of understanding and care. Otherwise, we find ourselves using the Bible as a weapon of judgement, rather than an instrument of God’s message. Whether for ourselves or for others, we will always see lots of those bright red diagonal lines. We need to grow and learn in the teaching of the master. We need the headphones, the template of Jesus’ words. Then, we will hear, actually HEAR, God’s word for us. Thanks be to God.
“14-17 …Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”
(2 Timothy 3:14-17 The Message)