Day 4 of the OK Teacher Strike. Day 4 of panicked legislators.
The Great Commission comes to us today in Matthew: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”
Those words may sound familiar. Many in Oklahoma grew up with the Great Commission, especially that first part of making disciples.
“…and TEACHING them.” Often we miss that second part, or fail to take it seriously.
This is especially the case here in Oklahoma, where we value the teaching profession about as much as we value sewage. We rank 49th out of 50th in US States for our overall public school system, the pay for teachers, etc. Our faith is not that much different – often simple, parochial, unchallenged – with many in our midst content burying their heads in the sand, believing the earth is flat and climate change is a hoax.
Secretly, many like reaping the rewards of our underfunded public education, so they can remain unchallenged in matters of faith and the world.
I’m not talking about our public school teachers teaching the faith – I am talking about the principles of a good education. I am talking about opening minds. Why would we not want to fund our schools in the best way we can, arm teachers with all the tools they need, and give our children the best opportunities to develop critical thinking? We do want a good education, right? (We do, right? I’m not sure anymore.)
The problem with not wrestling with your faith and failing to ask the tough questions is that we also fail to take the Great Commission seriously. How are we to take Jesus seriously “…teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” when we don’t arm congregants with a mature faith that can grapple with our current context – this big, bad world of technology, scientific inquiry, and the complexity of understanding politics?
This is where a good public school education, or a good liberal arts education comes in handy.
Having your world view challenged is never fun. But here we are folks.
And now educators are pouring into OKC every day now, fed up with the abysmal state of our schools, protesting the reality that we have put less and less money toward education in the last 10 years and yet have many, many more children now. And I am behind them. We have to stand up to the powers and principalities that would prefer to keep us as idiots, so we could not see the corruption of power and the ways of cruelty at work in the system.
The problem isn’t the schools, or taxes, or priorities. The problem is that many legislators turn a blind eye to SIN – the sin inherent in the system.
On another level, instead of valuing discourse, we as a people have bought into the notion that it isn’t polite to discuss politics or religion. As a result, we have raised ourselves and our children to be idiots. We don’t dialogue anymore. We self-select the “news” we want to hear. We can’t seem to have intellectual conversations about anything important anymore.
I believe we have been led down this dark and sinful path because of what is at the heart of the Great Commission. What was it Jesus was really teaching?
Really, what was that teaching we are talking about in the Great Commission? To love the unlovable. To care for the poor, the hungry, the helpless. To welcome the widows and the little children. To party with sinners. To feed everyone, whether they deserve it or not. To teach that those who think they have power and authority have very little. In short, he taught the in-breaking of the kingdom – an upsidedown world in which the meek would inherit the kingdom of God.
In other words, our faith costs money. It costs us our very lives, but also our pocketbooks. And at the end of the day we are a sinful, greedy people who want an excuse to simply horde all we have and forget about neighbor. We don’t want to truly live as Christ lived, practice radical hospitality and self-sacrifice.
This is why many Christians are content to stop with just the first part of the Great Commission. Baptize and they are done.
We don’t want to change. We want control. We want to horde our money and not share. Secretly, (and sinfully) we hate the Great Commission.
If we TEACH then we will OPEN minds, TRANSFORM souls, and CHANGE people. And we secretly (and sinfully) don’t want that. This is why you see efforts to de-fund education.
The Great Commission is about radical love. And that scares the hell out of most of us.
Dare to believe in the WHOLE Great Commission today. And if you feel so inclined, support a teacher too.
P.S. November is coming, friends.