WiW: They Don’t Learn…

The Week in Words

I’m a teacher, less than two weeks away from ending my career as a graduate teaching assistant.

I love teaching.

I love explaining things to students, helping people understand something better than they did before.

I love showing students how to do something, seeing them glow with a sense of accomplishment.

I’ve been teaching about food. And I love teaching about food.

Because I love food.

I get excited about cooking, about food, about how food fits into people’s lives.

My students can’t help but feel my excitement for food.

Which is why Don Carson’s quote sobers me.

“If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again…”
~Don Carson (via Justin Taylor)

What are the things I get excited about?

What are the things I emphasize again and again and again and again?

Are they the things I want to be emphasizing over and over and over again?

Carson says what should be emphasized over and over again:

“…What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel.
~Don Carson (via Justin Taylor)

I am challenged as I read these words. What is the refrain of my life’s work? If someone were to interview a dozen of my students and ask them what they learned from me, what my life message is, what would they say?

Would they say that I lived for food?

Or would they say that I lived for God, glorying in the gospel and savoring the sweetness of Christ?

I fear too often they would say the former–but my heart’s desire and my prayer is that the latter would be true.

Collect more quotes from throughout the week with Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”.

WiW: On Christian Occupation

The Week in Words

On what sets Christians apart:

“‘And they’re all so–so happy in their Christianity,’ said Davy.

And I said, ‘Could it be–that happiness–what’s called “Christian joy”, do you think?’

That night I wrote in our journal: ‘The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness….Indeed, there are impressive indications that the positive quality of joy is in Christianity–and possibly nowhere else. If that were certain, it would be proof of a very high order.'”

~Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy

Christians, and Christians alone, have reason to walk in joy. For it is only we who have certainty of God’s favor, certainty of eternal life, certainty of purpose. We are called to rejoice in all things (Philippians 4:4)–and we have reason to do so.

I love the concept of Christian hedonism–and John Piper’s twist on the Westminster catechism’s answer to the question “What is the chief end of man?” Piper suggests that it should be “to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”

As Christians, our joy and our occupation are one and the same–the glorification of God. Our task is to glorify Him–and glorifying Him brings us joy.

“Christian joy” is how all other occupations take on their meaning.

On what the world needs:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

~Howard Thurman (HT: Semicolon)

The only way to truly come alive is to know Christ Jesus, to be crucified with Him and raised to newness of life through Him. But there is a very real sense in which people who do what energizes them are a blessing to the world, simply because they take pleasure in their work.

The thought reminds me of another quote, this one by Eric Liddell, “I believe that God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure.”

Just as Christian joy is not an end in and of itself, but a logical outcome of glorifying God, so outreach is not an end in and of itself, but a direct outcome of the Christian’s pleasure in God and awareness of God’s pleasure in him.

What this world needs is fully alive people, walking (or running) in the pleasure of the Lord.

On the virtue of wasting time:

“Drinking beer with friends is perhaps the most underestimated of all Reformation insights and essential to ongoing reform.”

~Carl Truman

This article was really quite insightful, talking about the value of rest. It reminded me of I Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And indeed, while the worldly man is given either to workaholism or to sloth, the Christian has reason to rejoice in both diligent work and regular rest.

Whether you’re a beer drinker or not (I’m not–stuff smells too nasty!), there’s a definite aspect in which this is true. Time “wasted” in relaxation and relationships (not in front of the tube) has purpose. God Himself rested, setting a pattern for us to follow. And God designed us to live in relationship with others.

We can glorify God as we run, as we work, as we play, as we relax with a cup/mug/glass of our beverage of choice.

We can do all things for the glory of God. And, as John Piper puts it, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

Collect more quotes from throughout the week with Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”.

Does the cross promote pacifism?

Notes on John Stott’s
The Cross of Christ
Chapter 12: Loving Our Enemies

Those of you who’ve been following me for a while know that I’m in a book club that’s reading Greg Boyd’s The Myth of a Christian Nation (our last meeting is tonight, boo-hoo.) Well, Boyd, who appears to be from an Anabaptist tradition, seems to be a pacifist (I’m reading the last chapter, about violence, right now).

If you’re at all familiar with my family, you know that I have two brothers in the Marines (currently, they’re “poolies”.) John leaves for training in October. Tim’ll leave in January.

And a few of you know that, over the past year, I’ve developed friendships with several people who ascribe to a basically pacifist or nonviolent position on the basis of their faith–in Christ.

It’s been an interesting process, sorting out my own thoughts in relation to pacifism and the cross and how the two relate–or if they relate.

I definitely don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have any problem with personally being non-violent (I don’t have any desire to join the military, etc.)–but I’m not sure if I’m ready to suggest that others should also subscribe to non-violence, or that I should promote non-violence as national policy, etc.

Of course, those are merely side issues compared to the big question that I’m wrestling with, that is: How does the cross inform a Christian’s involvement or non-involvement, support or opposition, approval or disapproval of war and other acts including violence? Or, to put it more simply: Does the cross promote pacifism?

Many of those within my book club (who tend towards non-violence) have said that they do believe in some concept of justified violence–that states have some authority to “wield the sword” (a la Romans 13) which results in violent acts of justice. The question, then, is whether Christians can and/or should be participants in this just violence. This has been my primary struggle.

John Stott addresses Christian involvement in state administration of justice (including via violent means) in The Cross of Christ:

“It is important to note that Paul uses the same vocabulary at the end of Romans 12 [‘do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath’] and at the beginning of Romans 13 [‘he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath’]. The words ‘wrath’ (orge) and ‘revenge/punishment’ (ekdikesis and ekdikos) occur in both passages. Forbidden to God’s people in general, they are assigned to God’s ‘servants’ in particular, namely officials of the state. Many Christians find great difficulty in what they perceive here to be an ethical ‘dualism’. I should like to try to clarify this issue.

First, Paul is not distinguishing between two entities, church and state, as in Luther’s well-known doctrine of the two kingdoms…

Secondly, Paul is not distinguishing between two spheres of Christian activity, private and public, so that (to put it crudely) we must love our enemies in private but may hate them in public….

Thirdly, what Paul is doing is to distinguish between two roles, personal and official. Christians are always Christians (in church and state, in public and private), under the same moral authority of Christ, but are given different roles (at home, at work, and in the community) which make different actions appropriate. For example, a Christian in the role of a policeman may use force to arrest a criminal, which in the role of a private citizen he may not; he may as a judge condemn a prisoner…and he may as an executioner (assuming that capital punishment may in some circumstances be justified) kill… This is not to say that arresting, judging, and executing are in themselves wrong (which would establish different moralities for public and private life), but that they are right responses to criminal behavior, which however God has entrusted to particular officials of the state.”

~John Stott The Cross of Christ

This makes a lot of sense to me–but still leaves the question open in my mind: But should a Christian seek out “official” roles in which they must perform actions that are not permissible to them in their “personal” roles as private citizens and members of the body of Christ?

The Week in WordsSince bulk of this post is an extended quote from Chapter 12 of John Stott’s The Cross of Christ, I’m linking it up in lieu of my regular Week in Words post. Collect more quotes from throughout the week with Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”.

(See more of my notes on The Cross of Christ.)

***I’d also like to clarify that we should attempt to keep our comments Christ-honoring. I know that this is a topic that can get people riled up (I do, after all, belong to a military-ish family, and you know those pacifists :-P) But let’s try to be respectful.****

Quoting Hitchhiker’s Guide

I haven’t the energy for a really useful post, so instead I will give you a crash course in quoting The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

“Ford, there’s an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they’ve just worked out.”

“Did you realize that most people’s lives are governed by telephone numbers?”

“I can work out your personality problems to ten decimal places if it will help.”

“Come,” called the old man, “come now or you will be late.”
“Late?” said Arthur. “What for?”
“What is your name, human?”
“Dent. Arthur Dent,” said Arthur.
“Late, as in the late Dentarthurdent,” said the old man sternly. “It’s a sort of threat.”

“But in fact, the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.

“There are of course many problems connected with life, of which the most popular are Why are people born? Why do they die? Why do they want to spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches?”

“The Answer to the Great Question…Of Life, the Universe and Everything…Is…Is…Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.

“Potential Questions for the answer to the great question of Life, the Universe and Everything: ‘What’s yellow and dangerous?’ Forty-two Nah. ‘What do you get if you multiply six by seven?’ Forty-two Too literal. I got it! ‘How many roads must a man walk down?’ Forty-two. That’s it!”

“The note said, ‘This is probably the best button to push.'”

This book is awesome. You should read it. I’m using it to procrastinate studying for Biochemistry. And it works just great. It’s hilarious. It’s inane. It’s insane. It’s too true. You really, really should read it.