June 20, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked. ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8.30-31
As I was praying this morning in the early moments before sunrise here in Kentucky, the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Isn’t it time we stop begging for answers and start begging the question?” What I had been praying over was that our witness and testimony be so much a part of our everyday lives at work and play that people would ask us as followers of Christ why we did what we did. The problem may be that what we do does not look unique or so singularly focused that the question would be asked of us. Have we stopped to think about the things we do as Christ followers? In all the works we do, acts we perform and steps we take with the words we speak, does it say “Jesus loves me this I know and I know Jesus loves you, too?” Does our witness actually “beg the question?” Do we “beg the question” literally or do we live out the Great Commission by assumption instead of proposition?
Have you ever wondered how many Philip moments you have been given by the Holy Spirit of God? You know the ones I am talking about. “Philip moments” are those opportunities to beg the questions of “Do you understand what that scripture is about you are reading (and in many instances- SAYING)?” or “Do you know Jesus Christ personally in spirit and in truth?” or “Have you ever considered the eternal consequences of your teaching, activity or propagandizing?” How much of our social media espousals are really the participation in propagandizing?
When I worked with teachers and students in the classroom, I begged the question of “is learning happening here?” I wanted to hear the answer “Yes.” I really loved to hear “Yes, of course.” “Yes” could have been the brush-off answer to get me moving along to something else. Quite possibly they wanted me to move on because “learning wasn’t really happening and the data showed it.” They had evaluated it themselves and found it wanting or merely adequate. Students and teachers, and that includes administrators, weary of the struggle to teach and to learn at times and lower the standards of achievement so “no one is left behind.” I have mentioned this bit of acquired knowledge before concerning marching bands, military companies and multiple-harnessed teams of animals. If you put the biggest and strongest at the leading edge and corners, they will end up dragging the rest along or find some way to leave them behind. Instead, they put the smallest person with the shortest stride to lead. Everyone proceeds at their pace and the whole of them stay together as a strong and well-defined unit. If you don’t believe me, just ask the directors of those groups and see or watch the movie “Ben Hur” when he takes over the team of white arabian horses to race against Massala in the arena. But, the standards are not lowered to accomplish success. Rather, standards of participation is increased. It is the teamwork that makes for success.
Application of this thought? Ever wonder why we may have such a teacher shortage? Oh, sure, many pundits will espouse “pay issues.” True, teachers don’t get paid enough for what they are supposed to do. Yet, I know outstanding teachers who teach because they love to see learning in action. How do they evaluate “learning in action”? When students are able to demonstrate that learning by teaching. Didn’t you hate it when you had to show your work in math class? Just let me give the answers and give me my grade, right? Don’t ask me how I got the answers (copied from a friend, copied out of the back of the book, just knew it in my mind or better yet let my parents do my homework.) Trust me, most parents couldn’t do that math past algebra and simple geometry. I know I wouldn’t teach it past that level. But, if we “say we can do it” then we ought to be able to “demonstrate we can do it.” Learning in action, authentic learning, happens when the teacher has taught the student well enough that the student can be the teacher. Trust me, the teacher will not do themselves out of a job. But, good teachers will create the love for teaching so that others can learn and so forth and so on.
The same is true in our discipleship, and by extension our evangelism– “broadcasting the good news.” True evangelism through our discipleship doesn’t hinge on getting stock answers and filling prescribed check boxes. How many times have teachers asked the question only to answer it before the authentic learning was actually engaged? Good teachers “beg the question” just like Philip did of the Ethiopian eunuch. He asked “Do you understand what you are reading?” If the disciples were not “educated” learners of the word then how could they be teachers? The disciples had been engaged in the Alternative Education School of Jesus from Nazareth. True, who said “What good can come from Nazareth?” No, it wasn’t Philip but Philip was a part of the conversation with Nathanael who did say it. He only said what most everyone else had thought. Nazareth had that certain reputation. But, Philip had already begged the question saying “We have found the Messiah whom Moses and the Prophets have declared!” Philip and the disciples had been trained for three years for moments such as this. They were retooled and refreshed with forty days of “that’s what you meant when You said” crash course learning after Jesus’ resurrection. But, they learned most of all not simply to give answers but seek the explanation of what was known to be known more and better.
We, as mighty ones of God, cannot simply assume our fulfillment of the Great Commission comes by doing good works hoping they would get others to beg the question. Rather, in the midst of the work we are doing we must become intentional in begging the question of “Do you know why we do this?” or “Do you understand what it is you are doing or saying or where you are leading others with what you are thinking, doing and saying?”
Well, do you?
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Father, you have offered to us the vital answers to the questions we have. They cause us to ask more questions not for the sake of different answers but for greater understanding. You have actually called us to be apostles, teachers and lifelong learners, and not merely disciples and students only of the Word. Move in us today to be bold enough to ask others the vital question of “Who do you say Jesus is?” Let our work not be by assumption but by the proposition of there is but one Way, one Truth and one Life that leads to fulfillment forever. His name is Jesus and it is by that name we shall be known in our prayers, works and the living out of the days which we have been given. AMEN.