There are still boulders, big and immovable on the path of Life: poverty, inequality, prejudice, and egocentrism to name a few. We, the people of God, have a consuming desire and responsibility to move those mountains in good faith. We dare not settle for the hope that everything will be made right in the end without realizing that it is through us that it may be so. Together in mass we multiply our strength to actively push the boulders as we also pray and sing and long for the Kingdom.
We teachers have leverage. We wedge our lever under the load, ease backwards to the force side and push down. The boulder budges, the people of God gain momentum, the path of Life widens and more are added to our numbers.
Our leverage is, however, unique. The small things of teaching–questions leading to the moral dimension, genuine and well-timed encouragement, firm but gentle correction, modeling tenacity—are easily overlooked and even despised. But this is where we rejoice because we have seen work like this done before.
Paul, a teacher, insisted that the life of faith and freedom must be lived by the Spirit. As he himself endeavored to live that way, he traveled much, he wrote stirring letters, and he taught at every opportunity.
In Athens at the Areopagus, Paul taught the ones who hadn’t brushed him off in the streets. He credited them with religious sincerity. Owning his fascination with all the shrines he came across in their city he isolated the one with the most mystery. Appealing to their intelligence he introduced them to a better way to know Yahweh. Some scoffed, some wanted more teaching, at least two were convinced.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul taught the already convinced, the church, about “the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives.”Teachers are listed among the “important” parts. But, and don’t miss this, there’s a better way still.
What might Paul say to us teachers today? After exhorting us to live life in step with the Spirit, it could be to observe what is true and right and good where we are, to call out those things with affirmation watching for the ones intrigued and questioning. Then humbly and intelligently lead our students to a better way, a way we have access to through our life in the Spirit, a way we can share through active participation and engagement in our field. And finally, the best of all, to love.