Monday, January 25, 2016

WMTRBW Chapter 22: Jesus the Teacher

As we read our twenty-second chapter of We Make the Road by Walking this week, it's good to be back! I want to extend my thanks to Karen, Nicole and Nancy for filling in so ably and thoughtfully on the blog these past few weeks as I have been out on maternity leave. I've enjoyed reading your reflections on the text!

This week's chapter is on Jesus as teacher (duh, the title is pretty clear on that one!). I was captured by a couple of things in this very rich chapter.

The first is one of the discussion/reflection questions at the end of the chapter: "Share a story about one of the most important teachers in your life and what made him or her so significant." There are four or five teachers, from first grade to college, who I can name as making a deep impact on my life. The one on my mind after reading this chapter, though, is my 9th grade English teacher Mrs. Miles. My sister had had Mrs. Miles in high school as well and loved her, so I was excited to be in her honors English class. I'd always been good at English so I looked forward to impressing her. I ran into a problem, though: Mrs. Miles was HARD. She was demanding. I had never had to work so hard on my writing to hone it. But as I look back, I realize Mrs. Miles was the teacher who really taught me to write. Since that is now a huge part of my livelihood, I realize I have much to be thankful for! I wasn't thankful for how hard I was working at the time, but I am deeply grateful in retrospect.

What does Jesus ask and demand of us as a teacher? A different way of thinking, a deeper discourse. The second thing that captured me in this chapter is what it said about parables, and how this major vehicle Jesus used for his teaching challenges us to think, talk, and interact in different ways. Consider what Brian McLaren wrote about the parables:

"[Jesus] knew that most adults quickly sort messages into either/or categories—agree/disagree, like/dislike, familiar/strange. In so doing, they react and argue without actually hearing and thinking about what is being said. His parables drew his hearers into deeper thought by engaging their imagination and by inviting interpretation instead of reaction and argument. In this way, parables put people in the position of children who are more attracted to stories than to arguments. Faced with a parable, listeners were invited to give matters a second thought. They could then ask questions, stay curious, and seek something deeper than agreement or disagreement—namely, meaning." (WMTRBW Ch. 22).

As I listen to the way we talk to each other these days, I think maybe we need to be taught by and through parables once again.

What captured you from this chapter? What teachers have impacted you, and how is Jesus' teaching shaping and re-shaping you these days?

No comments: