Monday, April 6, 2009

Passing On the Ministry of Heaven and Earth

One of the most crucial discussions in leadership is regeneration. Some works are not meant to be finished in one generation. In fact, many important works cannot be completed in one’s era. People hand on important works from one generation to the next, hoping for improvement and completion. The ministry of heaven and earth is the most important work in the universe, and it will only be finished when Jesus Christ comes the second time. Nearing his death, Paul passed on this ministry of heaven and earth to young Timothy and instructed him: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Paul deliberately connects the idea of regeneration with education. This recalls Jesus’ commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go 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 I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Therefore, one of the focuses of Christian Education is regeneration. And since humans naturally grow, and our growth depends on the kind of education we undergo, thus if we are to prepare the next generation to receive the baton we received from our ancestors, the preparation must aim at teaching the next generation all there is they need to know and master in order to properly handle the baton they are about to receive.

Paul charged Timothy to pass on the ministry to trustworthy people. Paul wanted to make sure that the secret of heaven and earth he unveiled to Timothy will fall to the right hands. It was necessary for Timothy to find people who could be trusted with the secret. Why? Because the secret is for the ministry in the Kingdom of Heaven. Because whoever is entrusted with the secret of the Kingdom are among what Peter calls as “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). In other words, the secret is to be entrusted to those who will also work in the Kingdom as the royal nobles. This line of work cannot be passed on to untrustworthy people. Just like a king must not pass on his crown to a sloppy prince, Timothy must not pass on the secret and the ministry to those whom cannot be trusted.

Not only the secret and the ministry must be passed on exclusively to those who are trustworthy, but to those who also are qualified to teach others. Therefore, Paul’s instruction to Timothy contains two qualifications of the next bearer of the baton: trustworthy and able to teach. How in the world Timothy would ever find such people? The answer is simple. Just as our growth is determined by the education that we receive, so the secret of the answer rests with education. For the ministry of the heaven and earth, not any education can do it, but only Christian Education that possesses all the qualifications to produce trustworthy and able to teach people can.

In this context, Christian Education must teach Jesus’ disciples to teach. Teaching how to teach is the kind of subject educators tend to neglect. In education enterprise, many educators tend to assume that teaching is natural. Many of us believe that teachers are born not taught. The fact that many professors in the university are ignorant of the how of teaching does not have anything to do with whether they are born with the gift of teaching or not, but instead it has everything to do with whether they are ever taught how to teach. We even often assume that Teachers’ College students know how to teach and thus we do not teach them enough how to teach. Since Jesus’ commission is to make disciples and teach them everything He commands, then in light of Paul’s instruction to Timothy it is imperative for Christian Education to teach Christians how to teach.

Timothy followed Paul wholeheartedly. Paul taught Timothy to be trustworthy and to be able to teach. Paul taught Timothy the secret of heaven and earth. Paul taught Timothy the nature of the ministry he was about to pass on. Paul taught Timothy how to pass on the ministry of heaven and earth by way of teaching. All the what, the why, and the how of the ministry of heaven and earth are learned by Timothy through Paul. Then when Timothy was ready, Paul passed on the ministry to him to continue. This kind of ministry only ends when Jesus comes back. An education that claims itself to be Christian but does not strive to pass on the secret and the ministry of heaven and earth to the next generation is no Christian Education. An education that claims itself to be Christian but does not strive to produce trustworthy and able to teach people is no Christian education as well. Therefore, it is the business of Christian Education to continually pass on the ministry of heaven and earth to the next generation who are trustworthy and able to teach until the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Business of Christian Education IV -

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