writing, teaching

I enjoy writing and teaching. I mean, there are obviously times when writing or teaching is a real killjoy. For instance, when I was in college and Dr. Weeter had us writing a term paper in each of four classes, all due the same day. And when I’m teaching a room full of brats that don’t want to listen, learn, or grow. Then, writing and teaching stink. But most of the time, I enjoy these two tasks.

So I get what the apostle John was talking about when he said, in 1 John 1:4, “We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

Writing, particularly when you’re writing to teach someone something, is an enjoyable thing. Most of the time.

But as I contemplate John’s words today, I wonder how many of us actually grab onto the apostle’s sentiment. I mean, sure, he enjoyed writing, but that doesn’t mean I have to. And he enjoyed teaching (that is, after all, why he was writing), but that doesn’t mean that I will. John gets joy out of it, but I don’t. So I won’t.

I mean, I really can’t tell you how many people plainly refuse to write or teach people about Jesus. In our churches today, it is a perpetual struggle to find, train, and retain people who will do well at teaching, at all levels of the organization. Our society has sold us this bill of goods which tells us that faith is supposed to be a private thing, and so we don’t think it’s our place to tell people what to think or believe. Or perhaps worse, our Enemy tells us that we’re not good enough, not smart enough, and we believe him. So we wouldn’t dare step up to teach for fear that we won’t know it all and may be embarrassed at some point down the road.

Exactly when or where this may happen, we’re not sure, exactly. But we are sure it will happen.

So we do nothing.

John says that he is writing a letter to teach others about the faith to make his joy complete.

But John wasn’t the only one writing. And he wasn’t the only one whose joy would be made complete.

Indeed, he says, “We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” The distinction there is subtle, but it is real: John isn’t alone. With him is a group of people, each with their own gifts, talents, preferences, and fears. And each of them is having some part in the writing of this letter to teach.

What if teaching people about our faith isn’t just a responsibility or obligation. In fact, what if we can’t possibly know the full measure of God’s joy – our joy can’t be complete – without writing and/or teaching?

As I read these words by John, I am seriously thinking that this may indeed be the case.

And other Biblical writers would seem to agree. Jeremiah, for instance, lamented that he didn’t want to preach, but couldn’t keep it in. Paul cried out, “Woe to me if I don’t preach!” and challenged older believers to teach the younger. In fact, Jesus’ call to his disciples was to come, follow Him. We get that means to follow Him around and do what He does (although it could be argued that a huge number of us don’t, really), but do we not realize that the entire time He was going around, He was teaching? His disciples. The crowds. Samaritan women at wells. And the list goes on and on.

If I’m going to be like Jesus, I’ve got to be a teacher.

If I’m going to have complete joy, I’ve got to be a teacher.

I’ve got to be a teacher.


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