The family and I are away this week for a quick break. We missed worshiping with you last Sunday, but we will be back this weekend so I will see you all Sunday morning. In my absence, I asked a friend of mine to contribute an article this week for the Sunday School leadership site.
The following is an article from a man that I have great respect for as a Bible teacher. More importantly, I have great respect for him as a student of the Word. I know his comments will bless your heart and challenge you.
Chuck Peterson is a retired Air Force officer, the Minister to Men at Crossroads Community Church in Summerville, SC. He’s been a Bible teacher for over 20 years and is the director of Summerville Royal Family Kids’ Camp, ministering to 7-11 year old foster children.
“I had been attending a Tuesday night men’s study for several months when the leader asked if I would take the class for two weeks while he was on vacation. I had been pretty engaged in our study of Hebrews and I guess he saw something in me that I didn’t. I told him I’d pray about it and he said if I’d answered any other way he would have withdrawn the offer. The following week I was prepared to give him my answer; “No.” I had read James 3:1 that week and it said, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” Well, who needs that, I thought. Who in their right mind would sign up for stricter judgment? It was settled in my mind.
But before I could refuse the offer, God spoke to me. In 25 years He’s done that three or four times but that night He was very clear. “If you stay true to My word you have nothing to worry about.” He knew James warning and He knew my fear and He knew the answer. I agreed to teach and had a great time leading some 70 men in a study of Hebrews chapter 9.
Since then, I’ve given this much thought. As teachers, we have a serious challenge. We are teaching from an ancient book, written in other languages that most of us don’t read or speak. We are teaching stories about people we’ve never met in places we’ve never been too in a culture that is so very different from our own. We must work to bring it to life to our students. We need to work to help our students see Peter and John as real people in the midst of real events and we’ve got to do it without compromising the Word. It’s a challenge that can best be illustrated with an example.
Jesus told Peter, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” It’s believed that Peter lived some 30-35 more years. How many of those mornings did Peter wake up to the sound of a rooster crowing, to the sound of his failure? Jesus chose a common and frequent auditory reminder. It seems harsh but then there’s more to the story.
John 21 recounts Peter’s restoration. Jesus speaks with him by Sea of Galilee after they’ve had breakfast. Peter had a full stomach, was with friends in familiar surroundings and he could smell the fire they had used to cook fish. Peter would forever be reminded of his sin by a familiar sound. But he would also be reminded of God’s grace by familiar sights, sounds, smells and tastes; far more powerful. Does that have relevance to us? Is there a benefit in considering that possibility? Does God deal with us that way?
Can we stay true to the Word while introducing possibilities like the one above? I think so. We have to be careful to share our observations with the appropriate qualifications and caveats. Could Peter have had a cold that day and not be able to smell the fish and fire? Maybe. We can’t know and some would say speculation like that is dangerous. Perhaps. I think however, that if I’m careful to present my observations as nothing more – just my observations, some possibilities of how it may have happened – and my students draw their own conclusions; I think I’m safe. As teachers, sometimes it’s good to take a risk and step out of the boat, as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus.”
Thank you Chuck for this great reminder that the Word of God is deep and rich, and that there is so much we as teachers can draw from it as long as we trust the Author to know best!