Continuing from yesterday’s encouragement about how we teach, train, disciple, etc….
God is bigger than our hearts, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. So we have to help students understand that nothing is ever right simply because it is “obvious” or because it’s “common sense” or because it “feels right.” We have to help students connect to the biblical whys, or we’re establishing a pattern for deriving righteousness from other sources (internal or external, but not biblical).
Example: You organize some amazing college ministry service projects, but you never actually teach service from a biblical point of view.
Example: You take students out on campus to share Christ, but you don’t ever share why we evangelize.
Example: You tell students not to have sex with each other, but you never share the biblical why (or why not, in this case).
Of course, we will have much wisdom to offer and motivation to give. The point is that somewhere in the midst of all our teaching, students have to learn to connect the dots between what they do and what God Himself has said.
If I urge students to actions that are good and right but don’t actually connect those exhortations to the biblical whys, I’m (first) setting them up for legalism.
Sure, I might be teaching students to do things that are truly right and good. But if I’ve motivated with simple “You should” or “That’s what Christians do” reasoning, ultimately someone else (including just their own minds) could come along and suggest something that goes beyond God’s law… saying “You should” or “That’s just what we do” without ever backing up the demand with real truth. And the minute our students’ demands on themselves or others go beyond God’s law and God’s wisdom, they’ve stepped into the world of legalism.
Further, a second danger is setting students up to use themselves as the standard. This problem arises when we use words like “obviously” or appeal to students’ own “common sense” or natural desires – even if what we’re urging them to do is right and good. Suddenly, they’re only really listening to their own understandings… and while today their understandings might lead them toward righteousness, that’s not nearly always the case.
And eventually, somebody else (or their own understanding) will say…
- “Obviously, people have no choice about how they’re born.”
- “Clearly, a good God couldn’t be that way.”
- “It’s only natural to do this.”
- “Obviously there are many possible truths about this.”
- “Clearly this teaching is more spiritual than what you’ve been taught before.”