Preaching – Not Teaching:
This is not so much a “study” as shall we say an “editorial.” What I mean to say is that here, I’m not going to be (as much) teaching the Bible as opining about how we grow as we walk in the Way and some of the many pitfalls that frequently beset us as we do.
So you can categorize this under “worldly wisdom” or maybe “discipleship,” and maybe that’s not of much value to you, but who knows – it might just help you come up a little, so just in case, I’m taking the time to put this together.
I’m No Baby / Child!!!
There are no babes. None of us is still on the milk. From day one, we’ve ALL considered ourselves experts. Elders. Masters! Some of us are growing SO FAST that our understanding of Torah changes six times a year, yet we were mature, fully-grown adults then and we still are now. Every one of us is an infallible sage in our own hearts.
And how do we know that we’ve all hit the ultimate evolution of spiritual warrior? Where is our Level 100 indicator? Why just look at how we conduct ourselves on social media.
We realize that our time is invaluable. As such, we don’t WASTE it on people who are less perfect than ourselves (which is pretty much everybody.)
We don’t tolerate anybody who doesn’t “have all of the truth.” Our interpretations of the Bible are ALWAYS RIGHT no matter how often we change them. As such, if anybody else interprets a passage differently, then they’re lost / deceived / reprobate / foolish and most definitely NOT worth wasting any time teaching OR hearing.
We have FULL KNOWLEDGE of Torah / our god’s will / the Scriptures. So when some JUNIOR comes along and tries to “correct” us… THE AUDACITY! Can you believe this idiot? It would ALMOST be cute that they’re trying if they weren’t so foolish in thinking we could ever be wrong / misinformed / unlearned!
The last thing we will ever condescend to do is lovingly exhort or counsel a brother in error. It is much more efficient to eviscerate this cancer from the body – and as publicly, bitingly and sarcastically as possible. After all – they are WRONG and therefore beyond redemption.
How Did We Get Here?
“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”
When we begin our spiritual journey, we start off as CHILDREN. Perhaps it’s clear that most of us (in our arrogance) never see ourselves as such, the fact remains that we start in that same place – immaturity. And for two reasons that I can see, many of us never advance beyond that developmental stage.
Firstly – within the kingdom, there are five functions our elders are supposed to be performing – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. One of these is designed to grow the active body by seeking and saving the lost sheep. But the other FOUR (80%) exists to grow, strengthen and develop the body – us!
And do you personally KNOW an Apostle? No? Maybe your next-door neighbor is a Prophet? I know – you have a Torah-observant elder who pastors you when you start heading in the wrong direction. Not that either? Well at LEAST you have a couple of teachers lying around…
Meat Loaf said “Two out of three ain’t bad.” But what about one or two out of four? Now that’s not so hot if you ask me. Most of us are severely lacking of the ministries that are supposed to be helping us mature!
But wait – there’s more! In absence of close relationships with elders and their active involvement in our lives, we resort to comparing ourselves to one another – or even worse: unbelievers! So babies look at other babies and think, “Well I’m every bit as good as that dude, so I must be PERFECT!”
And as such, nobody compels us to grow, and we don’t look around and see any reason to push ourselves either. Simple put – nobody is there to raise the bar in your life.
The Spiritual Journey
Most of us began as lost sheep. We knew NOTHING.
Then one day, we learned a LITTLE BIT. We came to realize that Torah was the will of YHWH, that violating that was a “sin” and we decided to forsake our own philosophies and religions in favor of walking in HIS ways and seeking HIS will.
This decision is called “repentance,” and about this time our hearts start beating in the kingdom. This is our very LOWEST and most BASIC state. We don’t know it all. In fact, we know almost nothing. But we’ve decided to serve in faithful obedience. This is a NEWBORN BABY.
So very soon, we start SPONGING all the information and teaching we can! We are in a growth spurt and we need BREAD. We watch Torah teachings, read daily portions of the Bible, watch videos, listen to radio broadcasts… we seek out knowledge high and low. This is the behavior of a CHILD.
But soon after childhood… we become teenagers. This is where MOST of us get STUCK! We learn enough of the Law that we feel like we can flex our muscles a little bit. We become “Pagan Police” and start blowing the whistle every time one of our Christian friends puts up a Christmas tree. We realize that we now know and understand more than about 99% of the people in the world, and comparing ourselves to a bar that’s THAT low, we naturally assume that we’ve hit the ceiling.
At this stage, our focus is on right and wrong. I can or I can’t. And we rub it in everybody else’s face! “All of these commandments I keep already!” Sound familiar? That was our rich, young ruler who asked Messiah what he needed to do to inherit life. He wanted to know “what he had to do to be saved.” Give me the list with boxes I can check off so I can be done and over with it already. I just need to know and obey the LETTER of the Law. This is the behavior and thinking of a TEENAGER.
A precious FEW of us do something different from here. We stop comparing ourselves to one another, and we START comparing ourselves to MESSIAH. This raises the bar considerably, and thus we keep on growing. We start to think and speak and act differently. And what does that look like?
“YOU SHALL LOVE YHWH YOUR ELOHIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Now, we stop focusing solely on our rights and what we can and can’t get away with and who we can smack down for what. Our focus now is not on the LETTER of the Law but much more so on the SPIRIT of the Law – WHICH IS LOVE. This doesn’t mean we stop obeying the letter of the Law. Rather, it means we no longer follow it blindly and wield it with selfish purpose. It is now an INSTRUMENT of love.
Consider the laws written in Torah that pertain to our neighbors. What do they DO? What purpose do they serve? They protect his life, his wealth, his family, his land… They TRY to teach you how to help him and build him up and SERVE him.
Your concern now is much less about condemning your brother when you can, but rather HELPING him see the error of his ways WHEN he is violating Torah. Now your goal isn’t to win a moral battle and slay the weak or stumbling, but rather to perform triage and heal their wounds and make them strong.
Focus moves away from your own personal “cans and cannots” and onto the body of Messiah: the congregation. You seek to find the lost and build them up as strong as possible. You become supportive and nurturing and PATIENT.
And now more than ever, you realize that you STILL need to grow. You STILL don’t know it all. However, you know enough that additional truth becomes even harder to find. As such: you double your efforts and seek it even harder than before! Now THIS is the way of an ADULT. This is where we need to be.
I really don’t have much more to add to this. No inspirational exhortation or motivational speech. The only thing I will leave you with is this simple challenge:
Consider yourself carefully. Consider the way you talk to your brethren. Do you UNITE the kingdom, or do you DIVIDE it? Do you call out all the problems you see, or do you help people overcome them? Are you still diligently seeking truth the way we hunt for leaven once a year, or are you complacent in your arrogance?
Have you come far enough? Are you making enough of an effort to come further?