I’ve listened to thousands of sermons, talks, etc. in Christian contexts. And I’ve also given some messages in these environments.
But what is the purpose of all this activity?
Dr. Craig Ott, in his book Teaching and Learning across Cultures: A Guide to Theory and Practice, writes:
This work proceeds from a Christian conviction that the ultimate goal of all teaching is human flourishing, which has its ultimate root in biblical values and the restoration of the divine image through the redemptive power of the gospel.
This insight stood out to me because our community is intensively studying The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus, the Greatest Teacher of all time, starts that keynote message by explaining what it looks like to flourish in his kingdom (the beatitudes).
Would you agree with this purpose for teaching?
I completely agree with this purpose for biblical teaching. Whether we have thought it through or not, we are all striving towards our concept of a “flourishing” life, which is often founded on earthly things. Jesus gives an example of how as believers we may seek to worship both God and money (Matt 6:24). Worshipping money is to find security in our wealth for our well being rather than by trusting God, though God is not opposed to us flourishing in the earthly things as he promises to provide for our well being when we seek his kingdom and righteousness first. In Phil 3: 19-20, Paul makes a similar distinction between those who seek to flourish in earthly things and those whose focus is citizenship in heaven in Christ Jesus. True flourishing is completed on the day Jesus Christ returns who will transform our lowly body to a glorious one ( Phil 1: 6). True flourishing is based on our right relationship with God in righteousness, that can give us peace in our circumstances whether in plenty or in want, knowing that God is able to accomplish His will in our lives, irrespective of our resources ( Phil 4:12-13). We rejoice in the small wins in our life that are aligned in God’s will, knowing we are playing our part in God’s plan of restoration of all things.
Considering the differences in privilege we are granted at birth and the disparity in the number of days we may each live out our lives, how we flourish feels more important than how much we flourish. When we understand flourishing as righteousness made possible by God’s strength, it also makes room for humility in relationships.