Saturday, April 9, 2011

Difficult Teaching

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’ Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.’ He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:60-71

Being a student and being a teacher are both challenging. We are always learning each day and some lessons are easy to get and others are much harder. When the learners have challenges it can be frustrating. When the teachers don't know how to communicate or get through to the students, that too can be frustrating. The human being is a puzzle - no one person learns exactly like another and no one way to teach is most effective. And then there are the life lessons we do without guidance. They can be the hardest. Trying to learn how to live in a new place is always a challenge, as well as learning to adapt to new people and new surroundings. I know, even in this familiar place, it is very stressful and challenging settling in. It is hard to know how much to tackle on any given day.

The disciples have lost the thread and they are complaining. "We don't know how to do the math you are teaching", they said. "This is nothing we have ever seen before and nothing we have ever dealt with before." "Slow down and help us understand." Too often teachers never hear from the students that don't understand. There is no relationship of trust between them and so the learner fears complaining. Fortunately, the disciples could admit to their challenge, could admit to their struggle and remembered that their teacher continued to talk with them, continued to lead them and continued to care for them. The best teachers are those who are willing to be in relationship with their students and who are willing to turn the lesson over so it can be seen from many different angles. Jesus knew the lesson was hard. He also knew it was for everyone, no matter their learning challenges of educational style.

Today, I want to celebrate all of the teachers in my life. Those who have taught me in a class room and those who have taught me by example and mentored me until I could stand on my own. I praise God for giving us a relationship where we can admit to our needs and confusion and find rest and renewal, even in the most challenging times.

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