To help us partner with Jesus in his mission, he has equipped us with gifts , APEST, so that his DNA can be at work in his Body for the sake of his mission and the glory of the Father. This is the essence of 5Q.
We have been given the APEST gifts, as a Body, so that we can fulfill the five ministries that together define Jesus’ work: the Apostolic gift, the Prophetic Gift, the Evangelistic Gift, the Shepherd gift and the Teacher gift.
In order to represent the fullness of Jesus as His Church, we need each of these five ministry functions operating, like instruments in a symphony.
Just like the human body has systems, that all need to work together to keep the body healthy, we need all of these collaborating capacities together to truly, actively be the Church.
One of the ways that we can assess our corporate and personal spiritual health, our own Christlikeness, is to ask, “Am I displaying each of these gifts that Jesus displayed?”
How are we making intentional efforts to grow in each gift as Jesus disciple?
As the fullness and perfection of all five gifts, Jesus is the standard of Christian maturity. To truly be “mature in the Lord” is to be like him, growing equally in each of the five capacities. Don’t worry, we don’t have to max out on all five overnight. Fortunately, a life of discipleship provides a long runway for growth.
So, if our work is to grow in our APEST Quotient (5Q), then it’s helpful to understand the gifts as they apply to Jesus, ourselves and the full body of Christ.
We’re going to walk through each of the gifts over the coming weeks, and today, we’re going to start with the most familiar: Teacher. Our goal is take the most familiar gift, the teacher, and help you think differently about it, see the calling from another point of view, helping you to experience it as a multi-faceted identity.
To talk about the Teacher, we have to start at the source, so, let’s start with Jesus. In an excerpt from the 5Q book, Alan illustrates the ways in which Jesus is the perfected Teacher:
"Christianity has a long tradition of understanding Jesus as Rabbi, Guide and Teacher—so much so that it hardly needs any emphasizing at all. What we have not always fully understood, however, was the very particular “way” in which Jesus brings wisdom and understanding to his people. He is not some detached lecturer. He is himself “the Way,” and he shows us what a lifestyle based on truth looks like (John 1:17, 14:6.) In Jesus, ethics becomes ethos—a way to live. He discipled his followers by actually living life with them—he was their Master and Rabbi, and they lived under his word and authority. He is the Word Made Flesh—both the Revealer and that which is revealed: God’s Truth (John 1:1–14, 14:6, 17:25–26; Romans 16:26). He is the fulfillment of the Torah (Matthew 5:17). His authority is such that he can redefine the Torah itself (Matthew 5:21–22, 27–28, 33–34).
Jesus is sent by the Father to show us a new way of being human (John 10:10). He is the Light of the world, and as such he ushers in the true knowledge of God (John 8:12, 12:26). Paul affirms that Jesus is the source of all true knowledge and wisdom when he prays for the new disciples of the early church, that they would “have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2–3).
Drawing deeply from the teaching metaphor, it was John Stott who apparently noted that Jesus was at once the teacher, the classroom, and the curriculum. Is Jesus a teacher? No-brainer! Of course he is the Teacher; one by which all Christian teaching is measured."
Summed up in Jesus, the teaching function best represents and expresses the infinite truth and wisdom of God.
With Christ as the prism through which all truth is illumined, teaching takes on a shape that can’t be contained in a classroom. As Pastor Jon Ritner points out in his recent 5Q sermon series, The Collaborative Church, “the goal of Jesus’ teaching ministry is transformation through obedience.”
We are more than students. We are disciples. The job of the disciple is to literally follow the Rabbi. This is going to change the way we learn, what we learn, and what happens in us as a result. The goal is not merely to think differently, but to live differently.
The solid foundation of our lives is our obedience to God’s word. You don’t really know a teaching of Jesus until you obey it.
Somebody tweet that! Then go back and read it again. It’s a statement that leaps from the Scriptures and boldly challenges everything we think.
Teaching inspires action that ignites transformation that informs understanding. As Jon Ritner taught in a truly wonderful sermon recently, “Followers of Jesus don’t practice what we preach, we preach what we practice.” [Check out his sermon on the Teaching Gift]
How do we fulfill our calling to be a gift to the world as a teacher?
Teaching goes beyond just instructing or modeling the content of God’s word. Obedience to the word is as much caught as it is taught. Teaching is a means of doing until you know something well enough to teach it to someone else. The art of apprenticing comes to mind.
Learn to recognize Teaching in forms that fall outside of the typical education setting. The teaching gift, the teaching ministry is a skill that is expressed in every domain of society; financial planners, researchers, authors, corporate consultants, athletic coaches, journalists, acting coaches, and, of course, the classroom.
One of the ways the Body of Christ blesses the world around us is by living out the teaching gift in our unique vocations with excellence and humility and love.
Viewed in this way, Teaching becomes a gift that helps promote the common good of the Kingdom of God. It is one of God’s gifts that helps us fulfill the Cultural Mandate from Genesis 1 to cultivate the created world around us so that it flourishes as God intended.
Lastly, the Teacher needs the other gifts to remain balanced. In many ways, teachers are similar to prophets and apostles in that they deal with ideas that shape life. The difference perhaps is that teachers are concerned more about broad comprehension and systematic understanding as opposed to faithfulness to the covenant (prophets) and the nest of more foundational and formative (meta)ideas for which the apostle is the assigned custodian. Teachers often do not have that sense of urgency that drives the apostolic and the prophetic functions.
[Thanks to Jon Ritner who has graciously allowed the sermon material from Ecclesia Hollywood’s current series, “Collaborative Church,” to be edited for the blog]
What "teachers" have taught you the most? What did they teach you? How did they teach you? Let us know in the comments. We look forward to hearing from you!