Welcome to the world of distance–or social distanced–learning. You may not appreciate such welcome but in part or in whole your teaching and learning environment may need to embrace this reality. This season of disrupted learning has raised many questions such as what platform(s), materials, assessments, etc., are appropriate and effective? But a more fundamental question lies here, underneath and throughout the move to adjusting our practices.
The question is God-sized: What understandings of God and the Christian worldview should color and inform our adjustments?
Let’s look at God’s person, God’s pedagogy and God’s provision to help address this question.
In disrupted times like these it is useful to reflect on and act within an understanding of the nature, attributes and character of our heavenly Father.
God is still the Sovereign One. Sovereignty is a deep mystery. What is God’s role in the current pandemic and all its attendant disruptions? We lack the time and space to go deeply here, but suffice it to say sovereignty means that the Sovereign One answers to no one but Himself and His own intentions. He is in control and works all things out for His glory.
God is omnipresent. He is, therefore, still present in the classroom, and especially in His Spirit-filled teachers and students. He is present with you and your students even when they are not present with one another.
God is still Redeemer. He can take our sometimes inept efforts and our flagrant mistakes and turn them to His purposes, His glory and even our benefit. When we easily and humbly admit our professional shortcomings to our peers and students His redemptive touch can become visible.
God is still a God of grace and graciousness. Realize again that all our successes in managing distance learning–as in all of life–are credited to His goodness, grace and provision. More than ever, we need to carefully exercise grace towards our students in situations where direct face to face interaction is lacking. We must become more cautious than ever in crafting our online words, intonations and instructions without the immediate feedback experienced in a traditional setting.
God’s “pedagogy” and his provisions can often be seen as a distant learning paradigm. Let’s consider the things believers lean into without considering the distance of space and time that are built in.
We make much of the witness of God and His beauty in the act of Creation, in the wonders of the natural world and the glories of the heavens. (Has anyone out there not quoted Psalm 19 in a lesson at some point?) The light of a distant galaxy has traveled through both space and time to tell us something of His glory.
God has always spoken through dreams and visions, which perhaps has hints for us in this time.
Scripture itself was composed over a millennia and a half. Some was compiled from oral traditions. Letters over geographic and cultural distance inform our orthodoxy. Apocalyptic, eschatological and prophetic biblical passages even speak, as it were, from the future.
May we have the humble and holy imagination to think that God can use our efforts at distance learning to echo His own mighty mastery of it.
In Christ, we have the Spirit inhabiting our minds and hearts. In I Corinthians 2, Paul contrasts the beliefs of a “natural person” with the “spiritual person” and in verse 16 asks a rhetorical question and stakes an audacious claim, “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” Christ asserts, in John 6:63b, that, “ …The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” There is abundant provision in the Word and in the Spirit.
And, of course, there is the provision of prayer. Prayer focuses our attention on God’s person and presence and humbles us in our determination to get it perfectly right in our own power. Prayer will, in its mysterious and surprising ways, move the Lord to inhabit our efforts in this as in all we do in His name.
May we operate out of a robust understanding of God’s person, pedagogy and provision as we engage in the high privilege of education whether our students are near or far. Our God is always near.
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