USING WHAT I LEARNED FROM A RELIGIOUS PAST
Every child of God should be constrained to share their faith and to tell the story of their relationship with Jesus. The storylines differ from person to person. Some have come to Jesus with no history of Christianity whatsoever. They have had no teaching and must get to know their Lord without the benefit of familiarity. This has its benefits though. Their heart is a clean slate upon which God can write.
Others, like me, have come to Jesus with years of Christian history under their belt. We have been saturated in church culture. We know a lot of scripture and can espouse many of the doctrines. Much of this was learned under the heavy hand of legalism, and let’s face it ~ Hasn’t it been tempting to throw it all out and start fresh with Jesus?
In this short parable, Jesus makes it clear that the most effective teacher uses the new and the old. He reaches into the archives of the teaching he was given and realizes that even though the teachers were flawed, the doctrines were usually sound. And if sound, they are treasures. Part of maturity is to be able to value the truth apart from the messengers who delivered it. While they often marred the face of a gracious God, God used them to build a rock-solid foundation of scripture into the spiritual fiber of their young people.
It took me a long time to value my history in the church. I swung the pendulum the other way and over-corrected. For a while, I threw out the hymns. I also stayed away from anything that resembled ‘hell, fire, and brimstone.’ I shunned all messages that lacked the blend of truth and grace. Eventually, I was able to make a move back to the middle. The hymns became new to me. The scriptures I had memorized were available to me in prayer, also in my attempt to encourage others. I understood their context without having to engage in a lot of study. God opened my eyes to see the treasures and helped me discard what had been unprofitable.
In this ministry and by the grace of God, I am able to teach from the old and the new. God has done a new work of grace in my life but each experience has been built upon, and has been accentuated by, the foundation of learning that has served me well.
This mixture is what we are to pass on to those who come after us. Mentoring must be balanced with love-driven education and experiences with Jesus. Otherwise, knowledge taught outside the context of a relationship with the Savior will become a burden, not a joy. When I sit and learn at the feet of Jesus, my teaching will become contagious and the learning, effortless.
If there is more of the old I need to embrace, reveal it. If there is more I am to discard, let it surface. Be the sifter, Lord Jesus. In Jesus' name, Amen