I always had a love/hate relationship with my teachers, for a while, I loved to hate them. I’m not proud of this story, but it is unfortunately 100% true.
My first grade teacher and I didn’t always see eye to eye. We didn’t see much of anything together, if I’m being honest. The last day of school was always famous for two things, one, it’s the last day, and two, finding out your teacher for your next year. As I was sitting there getting ready to open my report card I called Mrs. Landau over to my desk. I said to her, “you know what I love about today? I know that I will never have you as my teacher again.” She didn’t say anything but just stood there as I opened my report card. On the bottom right hand corner had the name of my teacher for next year. The name in the box? Mrs. Landau! I couldn’t believe it, I failed first grade!
Mrs. Landau didn’t miss a beat, she leaned over, with a stank mixture of cigarets and coffee on her breath she whispered, “Steven, you didn’t fail first grade, I’m going to be your teacher for second grade…”
I’ve come to appreciate the magnitude and responsibility of a teacher. It wasn’t for the dedication of these incredible men and women I wouldn’t have gone as far as I did. A teachers role is not only critical, but diverse. It’s not uncommon for a teacher to act as a Coach, Trainer, 911 Operator, Juggler, Artist, Gardener, and Tour Guide. My favorite and the one that I believe Jesus best embodied is Tinder and Flint.
Tinder and Flint
Apart, tinder and flint don’t do much. But strike them together and you’ve got sparks. Put those sparks next to a flammable material and fire roars to life. Teachers and students are like tinder and flint – what’s one without the other? Strike them together and, under the right conditions, you’ll have the flames of knowledge start small and begin to spread. A teacher (and their students) is tinder and flint.
In John 3 we find Jesus being the flint to Nicodemus’ tinder. It’s in this chapter that John portrays Jesus as the “Divine Teacher.” Although it wasn’t in a class room, and it wasn’t even daytime, Jesus took the Pharisee Nicodemus to school; and what was Jesus’ number one lesson?
John 3:5-7 (NLT) “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’
So here’s Jesus, just a simple Galilean Carpenter schooling an Ivy League Theologian on the importance of being “born again.” Although Nicodemus’ response is quite comical, it’s also quite telling. You see, the tradition of the Pharisees didn’t understand anything about “re-birth,” but instead believed all that was required was the “right-birth.” One of the things that Jesus tried to constantly teach the Pharisees is their birthright didn’t have any importance to inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven.
I heard a story about a University President who was challenged by a Salvation Army bellringer to answer the question, “Are you born again.” His first response was that he was the President of a Jesuit College, to which the “bellringer” responded, “but are you born again?” This led to an additional response by the President, “well by virtue of my title, I’m the head of the theology department of the college.” One last time, the bell ringer challenged the President, “but are you born again?”
While the College President told this story as a comical exchange between himself and the bellringer, the question was still never answered. It doesn’t matter what his title is, and it doesn’t matter what your title is, titles wont get you into heaven, only the blood of God’s one and only Son can do that.