The entire time I taught high school English, I was earning a Master’s in Literacy at night. As rough as it was at times (I’m talking rougher than jet lag in the middle of a sandstorm), it was the best thing I did for my professional career.
It taught me the following research: too much homework hurts students’ learning, classroom instructions should include skills and not just content, and children associate books with punishment. I learned how to help students love reading, not just get them to the 11th grade. I loved teenagers 100%, but I became a great teacher because I was learning about great teaching.
So when I heard of coworkers giving copious amounts of homework and assigning multiple-choice tests, I visibly cringed. I knew from the research that even though laughter might’ve been commenced in these classrooms, the students were suffering harm.
As a teacher, it’s not enough to love kids and love school and consequently produce a rich education. You need to also have strong pedagogy. Yet how many times do we believe that if we just love God and people, that’ll produce spiritual fruit? The truth is you need to also have sound theology.
As Long as You Just Love Jesus
Nowadays, loving Jesus can feel synonymous to being a good person. Our generation values affection over honor, and it seems like this can be good enough. Love Jesus, love others, and make sure you throw a $20 in on Sunday.
After all, 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (NIV). Love is what matters. Love Jesus, love others, and make sure find a good seat for the Christmas Eve service.
Without a doubt, this Scripture reads true. It does. But some people have used this verse (whether intentionally or unintentionally) to perceive love as permission. Loving people means loving without boundaries. Loving people means loving without discipline or challenge. Loving people means being kind and not speaking the truth.
God cares more about our holiness than He does our happiness. And to step into a narrative where we don’t love like He does is to love without proper theology. And as Hosea says, His people die from a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
Unfortunately, we can seem like really good stewards of the Word. I mean, open up any Instagram account, and it’s going to show you the affection of community without the challenge of accountability. We can look the part without bearing any fruit.
In the book of Mark, Jesus sees a fig tree full of leaves a little ways off. He goes to see if He can find any figs. But as He approaches and studies the tree, He notices that it is figless, as it was ‘not the season’ for figs. Jesus then says to the tree, “‘May no one ever eat of your fruit again!’” (Mark 11:12-14 NLT).
This can seem really confusing at first, and it should. Because it presented confusion to Jesus. He knew it was not the season for figs, yet the tree still blossomed. So He cursed the tree because it was acting fruitful, not because it was fruitless.
This is why we need to be emulating Jesus’s love organically. We need to be absorbing His counsel and compassion. We need to be pursuing sound theology. Otherwise, we’re simply loving a caricature of Jesus instead of the true essence of His being.
Featured Image by Rezel Apacionado