(5.) Teaching Methods of Jesus – Conscience

(5.) Teaching Methods of Jesus – Conscience

(5.) Teaching Methods of Jesus – Conscience.

Nurture the Conscience.  Down through history, well-trained intellects who haven’t developed a virtuous character have proven to be a danger to society and useless to the Kingdom. Smart but immoral, intelligent but morally clueless. Raw intelligence without a conscience courts disaster. A well-educated person includes the development of integrity, someone who demonstrates goodness and virtue. If the whole mind is to be put into action, then the conscience has to be included. Any school that doesn’t nurture wholesome students is not doing its job. This is especially true in a Christ-centered school, where God calls each person to grow in goodness, reflecting, albeit imperfectly, the very purity of Jesus Christ. Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) is at the top of any to-do list for a Christian school. Jesus employed many methods to strengthen the conscience, the sense of right and wrong, of the people in the audience.

ACCOUNTABILITY. Jesus wasn’t shy about stepping in someone’s way, anyone who was going down the wrong path. He wasn’t afraid to refer comically to the impulsive James and John as the “sons of thunder” after they wanted to call down lightning to wipe out a resistant village (Luke 9:54). He even called His leader, Peter, the dramatic name of “Satan” after Peter couldn’t keep his mouth in check (Matt. 16). Jesus was certainly comfortable trying to keep the Pharisees in line, calling them all sorts of names, holding them spiritually accountable for being so self-righteous. And of course, Jesus was surely applying some heavenly discipline when He cleansed the Temple, not once but twice (John 2 and Matt. 21). Discipline and accountability is key to any efforts to train the students in righteousness. Teachers need to discern between being an authority and being authoritarian. They can be firm and kind at the same time. Jesus taught morality on purpose, intentionally, through His holding people accountable for their speech and actions and attitude.

PERSONAL EXAMPLE. Jesus taught righteousness by being an example throughout His public ministry. He showed what a righteous character looked like every day. He lived a life of virtue and integrity. His consistent goodness revealed to the disciples what God was expecting from those who followed Him. Jesus’ priorities echoed the Father’s priorities, and the daily decisions of Christ were founded on the desires of the Father. Followers were assured that they would please God if they followed the example of His Son. The disciples saw goodness in action, and they had no excuse if they wondered what an active, godly conscience looked like. Virtue is caught as much as taught, and the disciples were exposed to the best behavior and attitude that has ever been offered in human history. Jesus modeled a fully formed conscience, and He expected His disciples to follow in His footsteps. Jesus was a living illustration of a life well-lived in moral excellence.

DEMONSTRATION. Like all of us, the disciples were greatly helped when they saw something demonstrated by Jesus. Does Jesus have a heart for the people? Watch Him perform one healing miracle after another. How do we handle spiritual warfare? Notice how He is able to expel demons from all those under demonic attack. How should we pray? Look at Him pray and then follow His instructions in the Lord’s Prayer. What does it look like to serve each other? Watch Jesus wash everyone’s feet. How should we treat the outcasts? Look at Jesus enjoying a meal while at the table with those who were soundly rejected by the religious establishment. How do we deal with those who break Mosaic Law? Watch how Jesus offered justice and mercy, love and accountability, to the woman caught in adultery. How should men treat women? Look at Jesus as He respects, ministers to, and confers dignity to every woman He ever met. How should we love others? Watch Jesus demonstrate love every day, all day. Jesus didn’t just talk about righteousness, He showed the way to goodness by being good. He never wasted a teachable moment to demonstrate gospel values and virtues daily.

ELBOW ROOM. There comes a time when a student has to have a direct hand in strengthening his conscience. The student needs to demonstrate that he is able to confront himself and make the right decisions. For this to happen, opportunities must be wisely offered for students to choose the right path for themselves in the midst of a healthy accountability. Each student needs to learn for himself how to apply biblical principles to daily life. Maybe it’s during a service project, or a field trip, or a home project assignment. Maybe it’s a field trip or a school fair or recess or on an athletic team. Students need some elbow room to grow in making good choices. Jesus provided that for His twelve disciples when He sent them out to conduct a personal ministry in His name (Luke 9). And then He provided a time for seventy more followers to learn by experience, to develop a righteous conscience, by sending them out as well (Luke 10). Sending students out and giving them a chance to choose rightly communicates that the teacher believes in them, and that vote of confidence in itself builds character. Certainly a supportive community through home, school and church is needed to nurture goodness in a student’s life. But the individual conscience is a project between the person and the Lord.  Each student is morally responsible before God to build a righteous conscience.