In my recent work as a campus pastor at Regent University in Virginia Beach, I teach students to pay attention to the essentials in life while they solve a difficult moral problem through dialogue. The critical lesson to be learned is that to share wisdom with others you must be able to engage and share with them in a free and candid manner. This conversation can be complex and sometimes uncomfortable, but it is always valuable for the spirit of the encounter and for lessons you can take back with you.
Recently, I tried to explain to a questioner that he had to keep one foot in the world and one foot in the afterlife. When I relayed the question to him as a practical matter, he asked, “What do I do with that?”
That day, I realized that not knowing about a difficult issue leads to a lack of discussion. I hope students ask uncomfortable questions when it’s time for them to learn about important issues that challenge them or others.
Engaging like that is what is called asking the “radical question.” And it can be difficult. So I learned some important lessons that apply to “schooling” the world.
In my Christian tradition, the death of Jesus Christ meant a person’s soul is now a dead thing and not available for resurrection. Therefore, we must make a credible case that God can atone for our sins and bring back our souls. That requires demonstrating how living by God’s example and precepts is at the center of one’s life.
We don’t teach this kind of teaching because it is a new subject to most of us. We should even discourage the teaching of these topics because it is so unfamiliar. But because Jesus would have taught this teaching, we are all called to do it.
We don’t teach school by simply explaining complicated concepts and then having students identify the answer. These lessons only happen when students take responsibility for their roles in the discussion and actively do so. They have to find the story in the facts and then learn how to phrase their answers to each and every question that comes up. They need to do it in the open air without interrupting or acting intimidated. This is what Jesus would have taught.
Jesus encouraged us to show our hope and trust in God when we hear him preach. He loved students and understood they’d find inspiration and help even when he got heavy with detail about issues like heaven and hell. He did it to make them feel welcomed into his kingdom. That helps me personally understand why students need more questions about the “big questions” to help them seek the answers that Jesus would have addressed.
Jesus used those questions to show us the big picture of his journey back to the promised land and help us to understand the fullness of God’s love for us.