Spiritual Blindness: Why Don’t They Get It?
by Steve Huerd
One of the greatest moments in a teacher’s life is when their students “get it” and the light bulb comes on. Sometimes you can see it in their faces, in their assignments or perhaps in their review of your course. There’s something inherently satisfying seeing tangible evidence that you made a difference in someone’s life.
But what happens when they don’t get it and you can’t seemto get through to that young mind? You know the truth you are sharing is critical to their understanding, yet they just don’t seem ready to hear it.
As teachers in Christian education, we are like the Apostle Paul who said to the Corinthians, “we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truth to those who are spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:13).
Last week I was teaching a large group of high school students in a foreign country on a mission trip and I desperately wanted to share the gospel with them. However, the national staff told me if I did this publicly in this way, it would not be received well by the students due to cultural differences. They might be open to hearing it one-on-one but not in a large group setting, and especially if I preached it to them.
I consented, relinquishing my own ambitions, and shared only a small portion of my personal testimony regarding the importance of God in my life. Immediately afterward two of their national staff thanked me for planting the seed in the student’s minds and said my approach was very effective.
Yet I struggled within myself thinking, “why can’t I just share the gospel with them…this is what they need!” Yet, the truth was simply that they were not ready to hear it in that way. Paul likewise, experienced similar frustration with the Corinthians, “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it” (1 Cor. 3:2). Even Jesus, in speaking to the disciples, had to curtail his teaching, “I still have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12).
As Christian teachers, we should be aware of the limits of our teaching upon young believer’s hearts. Sometimes our students are just not ready to hear all the wisdom and insight we have to offer them. therefore we must make adjustments in our teaching when appropriate. These somewhat painful and inconvenient adjustments should flow from our love for our students. When they are not ready to hear, we must limit ourselves as teachers so as not to overburden them. No one learns calculus in first grade and no one can “comprehend the thoughts of God except of the Spirit of God.”