Have you considered the extremely important role teaching plays in our lives? There is little that occurs in anyone's life that is not dependent on being taught. In fact, we all regard the lack of teaching as being a legitimate reason [not an excuse!] for the inability to do something. When it is proven that a person was never taught to function in a particular way, we commonly accept the lack of teaching as a legitimate explanation of the person's failure to function.

Have you ever thought about the importance of teaching in your life? Let me call to your attention a few high points to illustrate the importance and power of teaching.

Someone taught you to walk.
Someone taught you how to speak.
Someone taught you how to eat your diet--and cultivate a taste for it.
Someone potty trained you.
Someone taught you the alphabet.
Someone taught you to read.
Someone taught you to count.
Someone taught you how to play the sport or sports important to you.
Someone taught you to drive.
Someone taught you how to spend money.
Someone taught you how to save money.
Someone taught you how to use credit.
Someone taught you your job skills.
Someone taught you your concepts of personal Christianity.
Someone taught you "how to do church."
Someone taught you how to give.

How many things can you name in your life that absolutely no one taught you anything important about it? There are many ways to be taught: environment, a mentor, experience, inquiries, an instructor, a test, a book, a visual, motion pictures, an illustration, etc.

This evening I want you to think about your life as you answer a question.

  1. Who taught you how to be human?
    1. Your response many be, "That is a ridiculous, stupid question that does not deserve an answer!"
      1. "Nobody has to be taught how to be human!"
      2. "Everybody just knows how to be human!"
      3. "All of us where born knowing how to be human! All we had to do is just survive! If we survived we were human!"
    2. Really? You really think the question is that ridiculous? You really think everyone just knows how to be human?
      1. Do individuals in gangs know how to be human?
      2. Do drug dealers know how to be human?
      3. Do people who lie, or steal, or murder, or abuse, or rape know how to be human?
      4. Do addicts know how to be human?
      5. Do materialists know how to be human?
      6. Do power crazed people know how to be human?
      7. Do suicide bombers know how to be human?
      8. Do terrorists know how to be human?
    3. Many in this congregation have visited other countries.
      1. Some times we stay only long enough to be tourists.
      2. If we stay long enough to do more than "uhhh and ahhh" over the interesting sights, we quickly become aware that we are surrounded with people who have distinct differences in definition about what it means to be human.
      3. At the foundation of cultural differences are the differences in what it means to be human--that is one of the reasons that cross-cultural marriages find it so difficult to succeed [there are basic differences in understandings about what it means to be human].

  2. Let's get very practical and pragmatic in each of our lives.
    1. Who did you allow to teach you what it means to be human in your marriage?
      1. Who taught you what a good wife does?
      2. Who taught you what a good husband does?
      3. Who taught you the values that make a marriage strong?
      4. Who taught you the standards that show respect and appreciation in marriage?
      5. For a long time the divorce rate in first marriages has been around the 50/50 mark in the American society.
        1. That means for every couple who knows how to keep a marriage together, there is a couple who does not.
        2. However, that is deceiving.
        3. Even among the 50% who stay together, far less than half of them are happily married [their reason for staying together has nothing to do with being happy with each other].
    2. Who did you allow to teach you what it means to be human in child rearing?
      1. Are your children truly blessed to have you as a Mother because of the human being you are?
      2. Are your children truly blessed to have you as a Father because of the human being you are?
      3. Will your children see what good human beings are because they have you as a Mother and Father?
      4. Do you realize that one of the greatest disadvantages some children have in life are their parents?
        1. Their parents are so self-centered that they almost always think of themselves before they think of their children.
        2. Their parents are so preoccupied with things other than their children that their children are rarely of first importance to them.
        3. In this society, child abuse is a growing, escalating problem.
    3. We could focus on the meaning of being human in a lot of areas of life: concepts of being an employee, concepts of being a boss, concepts of being a friend, concepts of being a neighbor, concepts of compassion and mercy, concepts of kindness, concepts of forgiveness, etc.
      1. But the bottom line in all these considerations basically begins with the same question: who do you allow to teach you how to be human?
      2. When it comes to being human, someone has to teach you--who is it?
      3. There are lots of teachers:
        1. A bad past or an enjoyable past.
        2. Bad experiences or enjoyable experiences.
        3. An empty life or a purposeful life.
        4. Culture.
        5. Movies and television.
        6. What the people we see and know are doing.
        7. Our focusing interests and passions.

  3. Why did God send Jesus to this world?
    1. Most of our answers center on the truth that God sent Jesus to lead us to God.
      1. Jesus came to give us mercy and grace so we could belong to God.
      2. Jesus came to show us the way to walk with God.
      3. Jesus came so we could have salvation.
      4. As Jesus said the night before he was crucified,
        John 14:6 "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."
      5. He absolutely came to lead us to God the Father.
    2. May I suggest to you that God sent us Jesus for more than just one reason. May I suggest that God also sent us Jesus to teach us how to be human.
      1. What would a person be and act like if he or she had no sin and were not influenced by evil in any area of life?
      2. He or she would look like, think like, feel life, and behave like Jesus did.
      3. Why? Because he was a human in whom there was no evil, who belonged exclusively to God.
      4. We as Christians have a tremendous need to understand that there is humanity as God created and defined it, and there is humanity as humans envision and define it.
    3. Jesus' sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 is filled with powerful contrasts between the emphasis of religious humans and God's emphasis.
      1. Religious humanity said control murder with justice, but God said control murder through good relationships.
      2. Religious humanity said control the act of adultery, but God said control the heart and there will be no acts of adultery.
      3. Religious humanity said divorce correctly, but God said do marriage correctly.
      4. Religious humanity said do vows correctly, but God said be so honest that a vow is not necessary.
      5. Religious humanity said exact justice carefully, but God said replace justice with mercy.
      6. Religious humanity said hate your enemies, but God said love your enemies.
      7. Religious humanity said practice righteousness to get people's attention, but God said practice righteousness for Me and Me only.
      8. Religious humanity said invest in the here and now, but God said invest in eternity.
      9. Religious humanity said focus on everyone else's mistakes, but God said focus on your own mistakes.
      10. Religious humanity said all that matters is appearances, but God said who you are is as important as what you do.
    4. Listen to this statement from Paul to the Christians at Colossae in Colossians 3:5-11.
      Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him-- a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

When it comes to humanity, who teaches you how to be human? God through Jesus, or something else?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 6 June 2004

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