Grace, Truth, and teaching Noah to read
I have been working with my 6-y-o to teach him to read. It is hard, because he has dyslexia, and my older boys both learned to read just by being read to -- so I am learning something new, here!
And it seems to me to be a good illustration of how God is working to teach me how to live. Just as one either knows how to read well or does not know how to read well, one knows how to live well or one does not. (Dallas Willard's explanation of the sermon on the mount is one of the best places I've seen a good explanation of what that means.) But God takes responsibility for His part in teaching me how to live, just as I take responsibility for my part in teaching Noah how to read. And God loves me even when I can't live well (because I can be forgiven because the just penalty for sin was satisfied by Christ -- yes, Mike, I still believe in atonement!)-- but He will persistently move me toward gaining the practice and skill that I need. (It is His purpose in my salvation to give me that abundant life that defines salvation!)
So we can hold out a standard of behavior that God is moving us all toward, because God has revealed so much through His word and through the Holy Spirit in the community of the elect through the centuries and now. Our children's teachers ought to be able to read, right, if they are going to be entrusted to teach our children how to read? And our leaders in the PCUSA ought to know how to live -- because they are going to help us learn how!!! Struggles and failures on the part of a teacher don't disqualify him or her, but may actually equip the individual to be a better teacher. However, failing to read -- or choosing to decide that reading doesn't really matter after all, and doesn't need to be taught or practiced -- would definitely disqualify a teacher from being my child's teacher!
God is leading all of the elect toward the same end -- toward a knowledge of how to live lives that show His salvation and power and to lives that really show that salvation and power. As a community and as individuals we do have our side in that -- which is to stay in relationship to God as He has revealed Himself in scripture, to stay in relationship with each other, and to choose beliefs and practices which foster obedience and growth. And to repent when we do not, and turn back to doing those three things!
As part of that, our denomination should keep holding out the standard of what is healthy and right, and keep holding out the grace that says "come as you are!" to all seekers, but choose leaders (teachers) that show in their current lives the salvation that is promised to the elect in Christ.
And may we each keep holding out to each other a forgiveness for the past, a hopeful expectation for today and tomorrow and into our futures, and encouragement about the truth of the Gospel of Grace and Obedience!