The Teacher or the Teaching?

Originally published in The World Invader: Global Outreach Developments Int’l: Issue 18, February 2005.
You can read the whole edition
here.

Which is greater, the TEACHER or the TEACHING? Have you ever asked yourself this question? The answer to this question, believe it or not, is imperative to the way you live!

Now the question only leaves you to answer one or the other, so you can’t say, “the teacher if…” or “the teaching when…” You only get to pick one or the other as this question is being asked in the realm of “what should be.”

Okay, if your answer is “the teaching,” then lets evaluate the life of one who is more concerned with the teaching than the teacher.

There are many teachings that are in the world, about life, family, finances, religion, teachings that answer the hard questions like “why is there suffering in the world?” and “why do bad things happen to good people?” As one who is looking for a great teaching to follow, how do you decide? How does a person set apart one teaching from another? Perhaps he will evaluate all the options, weigh it out in his heart and mind. As a Christian one would probably apply their knowledge of the Bible and even discuss it with those whom they have common interest with like family and friends.

Once a teaching is decided upon, it must be accepted. Once the teaching is accepted, the truth is in possession of the one who has accepted it. A guideline to living can be set in stone now and the person can continue on having gained this knowledge.

How does this person prove that their teaching is correct? They have to learn to defend it, so that they are able to prove it is right. Answering questions like, “why was that teaching the best option?” “How does that teaching make more sense than this one?” “Are there people who are educated and in authority who agree with this teaching?”

Since the teaching is of greater importance, an audience to a teacher can judge that teacher from a distance based upon what they have heard them say, or not say. The teacher’s value is found in whether or not what they are teaching is validated by the audience who has pre-selected an option, learned to defend it, made sense of it and have the authority of other educated people who have done the same. So if the teacher’s teaching agrees with these premises, they will be accepted. If not, then the teacher is not in the truth and the teaching is invalid and the person is not worth listening to.

In fact, they must be stopped at any cost before the ones we love—who have not pre-selected an option, not learned to defend it, not made sense of it and do not have the authority of other educated people—decide that what this false teacher has to say is the best option.

A world renowned medical doctor in the health arena published some of the greatest curriculum on eating habits and exercise for the 21st century American. Many had found Dr. Snikta’s work to be of great value, even other renowned professionals endorsed his teaching and the book became a New York Times bestseller. Literally millions would testify how this teaching was the best option among all the others out there. One Hollywood star said, “This teaching just made plain sense!”

One day the news headlines rang out that Dr. Snikta had died of a massive heart attack. No one had ever really looked into the personal profile of this world renowned doctor whose teaching was changing the lives of millions. Upon investigation, it was discovered that he was about 300 lbs. overweight. His diet consisted of fast food and sugars and he rarely left his home office for any kind of exercise. The author to this fine teaching did not adhere to its request himself. Nonetheless, it’s the teaching that’s more important than the teacher.

In contrast, if you decided that the teacher is more important than the teaching, then the teaching doesn’t find value until it’s lived out by the one who teaches it. The standard is found in the one who authored the teaching, and their teaching is a derivative of who they are, rather than something independent of their person.

There is no need to defend the teacher; the teacher is who the teacher is. There is no need to weigh out other options, either you will accept this teaching or not. As to determine whether what this teacher has to say makes sense or not, it is up to debate; because if the teacher is greater than the teaching to you, if the teaching doesn’t make sense, then your trust in the teacher will lead you to believe that perhaps in time, it will. And if no one agrees with such a “new teaching,” it’s of no threat to you as your trust is in the teacher and not in the opinions of the masses. This is such a dangerous paradigm. To allow such power to exist in a man!

But wait, isn’t it the choice of the individual? Doesn’t the individual have an option here: to believe or not? If he believes that such a one has this kind of authority, then they will truly become a student to the teacher. If they choose the former and submit themselves to the authority of a teaching, then they will become students to the teaching. They have their choice.

So which is greater, the teaching or the teacher?

I have often asked myself this question after hearing preachers preach, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” or “If you want to be my followers you must deny yourselves, pick up your cross daily and follow me.” Yet, their life heads no way in the direction of the cross, into a life of suffering, into a life of persecution, into a life in imitation of the teacher who authored those words. After all, it is the teaching which is more important. If we could all just agree that this teaching of Christianity is the best option and that it makes the most sense; after all, so many agree with it, even educated people with great authority given by God. If we would just accept this teaching as true, then we could learn to defend it against all those who want to put emphasis on anything outside of our pre-selected teachings about Christianity.

We can especially leave out the one who authored the teachings. We don’t have to live like him or share his fate because it was his teachings that were more important.

There is no need to defend the teacher; the teacher is who the teacher is.

Luke 22:70-71 All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say that ‘I am.’ “ Then they said “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”

There is no need to weigh out other options, either you will accept this teacher or not.

John 14:12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do…

As to determine whether what this teacher has to say makes sense or not, is not up for debate because if the teacher is greater than the teaching to you, if it doesn’t make sense, then your trust in the teacher will lead you to believe that perhaps in time, it will.

John 13:6-8 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

And if no one agrees with such a “new teaching,” it’s of no threat to you as your trust is in the teacher and not in the opinions of the masses.

John 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”

John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

This is such a dangerous paradigm. To allow such power to exist in a man!

Matthew 27:54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

Matthew 10:25 The student shares the teacher’s fate. (NLT)

Let us choose to be students of God himself; our Lord Jesus Christ!