Thursday, October 05, 2006

Didactic Dichotomy

Train up a child in the way he should go;
(Proverbs 22:6 – ESV)

In Florida, we have a situation that I am not sure many people are thinking clearly enough about, considering the effects it has on children. You see, children have to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, but adults do not when they ride motorcycles. It is much more dangerous to ride a motorcycle than a bicycle, but adults are mature enough to handle it, the reasoning goes. This sort of practice, when applied as it is to other areas of our family and community lives, creates an unforeseen split in our teaching and their practice, a didactic dichotomy.

Often we teach our children to do things we would consider wrong in ways we never even thought of. It is not that they do not respect you it is that they do; they want to be like you, an adult, so one way is to do what adults are allowed to do but children aren’t. Think about it. If the only perceived difference between you and them is that you are mature enough to handle cigarettes or alcohol or not wearing a helmet, then this must be what it means to be mature, to have alcohol, to have cigarettes, and to not wear a helmet.

We think training is how we teach but it is more about how we live and the rules we make for ourselves. Our rules for ourselves are more important than the rules we make for our children sometimes, because that is what they see themselves getting toward, your rules. They reason, if it is okay for you, and eventually okay for them, why not now? Training is not just telling. It is showing. The word in Hebrew means dedicate. Bring them up – train them don’t just tell them. Your children will learn what you live. Pastor, your flock will pasture where you graze.

When discipling believers, we want to show them how to be like Jesus, not show them how Jesus is like them. When training children, we don’t talk like children we get them to talk like us; we don’t act like children we get them to act like us. However, when the only thing we do different than our children is smoke and drink and cuss, well then no wonder that is what our children do when they want to sound and act grown up. And then we want to punish them for imitating us, for doing what we taught them to do. Ironic. Do as I say, not as I do, it does not work unless we can articulate why we can do it and they can’t handle it yet, and it has to be a legitimate reason.

When youth see different behavior in adults they often perceive it as what it means to be grown up, and when they want to act grown up they do this very thing. We are teaching them to do it when we define adulthood as being able to do these things, instead of modeling and defining maturity as Christ does, not as what you are allowed to do, but as what it is best to do. Maturity is not learning to develop our self-indulgence but learning to deny it. When you include yourself, you realize that you are always teaching somebody.


Anonymous said...

When discipling believers, we want to show them how to be like Jesus, not show them how Jesus is like them.

I really like that comment.

There are so many ways that I know I have "taught" my children things without even realizing it. Sometimes, the example we set is far noisier than all the teaching we do.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, I had been thinking about role modeling this morning also.

Charles Barkley once claimed he was not a role model, when the actual point he expressed was "I should not be a role model." He was correct in this paraphrased statement; nevertheless, this does not divorce his on-court actions from his off-court shenanigans. What he failed to realize was the two are inexorably linked in the minds of the immature, regardless of his desire otherwise. As long he was successful on-court, he would be watched & idolized off-court. He was shirking his responsibility; like it or not, he was a role model.

“When discipling believers, we want to show them how to be like Jesus, not show them how Jesus is like them.”

JD, is the second part of this statement a bit of a tangent assailing some liberal Christian teachings that Jesus was “just a man like us” who had failings but overcame them?
It’s a good rebuttal to such heretical doctrine, but I’m not sure I’m comprehending it correctly.

Anonymous said...

I did not realize until later in my Christian walk how my upbringing of "do as I say...not as I do" had influenced how I parented. Hopefully there will be a generation of parents who will show their children how to "be like Jesus".

Even So... said...

Steve, I was thinking of those who want to make Jesus relevant to the culture at all costs.

Indeed, Jesus does identify with our hurts, but He teaches us to rise above them in His grace. Believers are to identify with Jesus, more than He is to identify with them. IOW, we are to become like Him (Romans 8:29), not Him like us (Galatians 3:28 / Colossians 3:11).

However, many today want to have a biker Jesus, a cowboy Jesus, a feminist Jesus, et al...they have it wrong, it is about you bringing your deal, your life, your identitity as a biker, cowboy, whatever, to Jesus to be baptized into Him, and assume a new identity, not Jesus bringing Himself to be baptized into yours.

The point is that although Jesus was a carpenter Jesus, that isn't making carpentry the identification point. We need to focus on Jesus as Savior and Lord, not Jesus as a carpenter, or Jesus as Jewish (bring it on) is about Jesus in His perfection, not Jesus in His profession...not Him into our choice, but us into His character.

Anonymous said...

With respect to what Even So said to Steve----I "feel" :) as though our Christian culture is trying to "de-deitize" Jesus.....bring Him down to our level and I've seen how low some of us have taken Him...ya know what I'm sayin??

We have a God who can "understand" us without having also visited that gutter we were in!

Craver Vii said...

It took me a while, but I just noticed the clever teach/learn graphic.

We must not shirk our responsibility as ambassadors, role models, teachers...

Still, I'd like to go with a different angle here. Which of us is not a hypocrite? We do not live the perfect standard we aspire to. Though we keep striving for perfection, we fall short. Nevertheless, the Christian life is not about being like Christians; it is being like Christ. We must look to Him AND point to Him for others to follow.

Yes Son, it's not fair; I didn't wear a helmet, but you must.

(I don't ride a motorcycle, but if I did, I probably wouldn't wear a helmet. Supposedly, you can see and hear better, increasing your chances of avoiding an accident. Avoiding an accident is way better than surviving one. And if I gave someone a ride, I would insist that they wear a helmet; they don't need to avoid an accident, they need to be safe.)

Even So... said...

Thank you for thinking it through, Craver, and providing us with insight...

We must always realize that no matter how good we do, there is always the blind side we still have, and that is when grace gets more "gracier" to us in our understanding...

very good stuff indeed...

Daniel said...

...It is not that they do not respect you it is that they do; they want to be like you, an adult...

That's pure gold, not only in parenting, but in discipling as well.

Every now and again a post comes along that not only says a good thing well - but actually causes you to say - I am going to remember that, and think about it, and make sure that I don't ever forget it.

Well done.

Anonymous said...

”Steve, I was thinking of those who want to make Jesus relevant to the culture at all costs.”

I was just checking to be sure. Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thought you were saying- we all need to examine ourselves to be sure we’re not simply “adding” Jesus to our normal routine.

”We need to focus on Jesus as Savior and Lord, not Jesus as a carpenter, or Jesus as Jewish (bring it on) is about Jesus in His perfection, not Jesus in His profession...not Him into our choice, but us into His character.”

Woo-hoo, looks like someone’s ready to go at it concerning falsely focusing on Jesus’ Jewishness.
Well, you’re not going to get any argument from me on that, but I would say we should focus on Him as Lord & Savior first; & His perfect character second, for this is supportive of the process of sanctification. This is another reason why John (& to lesser extent the synoptics) ranks high on my list of favorites. Here, we find a perfect Role Model walking, talking, suffering, & dying; encountering many of the same difficult persons & situations I have or will face in my life. He faced them all & never shrank back from perfection, indicating my imperfection & need for continuing perseverance.

For example, I often consider the depth of Godly character it takes to pray for your enemies in the midst of their severe persecution of you, as Jesus did on the cross. The first century martyr Stephen displayed this quality as did William Tyndale at his execution; while I sometimes have trouble praying for my own wife as we simply disagree in some fashion.

Yeah Craver, I think most of us have a loooooooooooooong way to go to meet His standard.

Even So... said...

Truth is being told in these comments, thank you all...

Anonymous said...

Craver -

Just another side note - my understanding of Hypocrite - comes from the Greek word for "actor" or pretender. Hypocrisy is the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold. Soooo....Hypocrites may show up at church every Sunday, but there are no hypocrites in the Church (Christ's body). The Church is made up of true believers; hypocrites are "pretenders" who sit among God's people. (I got this from the Evidence Bible - thought it made sense, especially when someone tells me they don't go to church because it is full of hypocrites!

Craver Vii said...

Thanks Chris. I think you're right about that. Lemme explain myself. I tend to use a Matthew 5 filter when talking to fellow Christians. So, I could just as well have been talking about murder or adultery, but not in the classical sense. In that way, I look at myself and how I say I love the Lord, but if I know I'm not giving 100%, I feel like I need to confess hypocrisy. You dig?

Anonymous said...

JD - yeah, good stuff here. Thank you!
Steve - thanks for the insights also... it IS Soooo hard to pray for those who are "persecuting" me, for whatever reason.
All of this is really pertinent , right now for so many of us.

Lynda R