“He [Jesus] fought and conquered. On the one hand, he was man who struggled for his fathers and through his obedience cancelled their disobedience. On the other hand, he bound the strong one and freed the weak and bestowed salvation on his handiwork by abolishing sin. For he is our compassionate and merciful Lord who loves mankind … Had not man conquered man’s adversary, the enemy would not have been conquered justly. Again, had it not been God who bestowed salvation we would not possess it securely.”
― Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 3
One thing that our current generation of Christian lacks is having deep respect for our spiritual teachers. I consider those who teach us the principles of the Christian faith as spiritual teachers even if they do not claim any such status. Some of them rather use the term ‘workers in the Lord’s vineyard’ which is fine enough for me.
Back in the early centuries of Christianity it was difficult to gain access to teachers of the faith. This was because the Roman Empire heavily persecuted the preachers of the Gospel. Persecution by death to be precise! Yet time and again there arose teachers who risked their lives to help other Christians learn the teachings of our faith.
We have a lot to thank our Lord Jesus for the past teachers of the faith. Augustine of Hippo defended the Christian faith from pagan critics. Athanasius of Alexandria preached against the heresy of the Arians. St. Irenaeus gave canonical status to the gospels of Luke, Matthew, Mark and John which are now part of the Bible. Sometimes the teachers made Bible reading easier, for instance the Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton who helped develop the concept of assigning the chapters and verses of the Bible for easier study.
Cut back to today’s world. Most of the teachings of our faith are available free on the internet and on TV as well. In some places you still get free Bibles and Christian literature without paying anything. Now some people equate ‘free’ with ‘low quality’. Yet these are the ones are among the first to complain if the teaching series is available by payment only. They have made their minds to blame a teacher of the faith if he gives out the teachings for free or at a cost. They will accuse such teachers of having hidden agendas. Double standards indeed!
People make fun of teachers who preach against silly divorces saying that these are still ‘stuck’ in the middle ages. But when these people themselves undergo a divorce they rush to these teachers to pray for ‘reconciliation’ with their spouses. And poor teacher simply forgives those who made fun of him and then helps the person facing the divorce issue. Now when the divorce is averted, what do such people do? They never apologize for making fun of the teacher but only keep hugging their reconciled spouse. Selfishness indeed when the only point of these people is their own happiness!
Then we have people who ridicule the preachers who remind us that Jesus gave us authority to cast out evils spirits. They will make jokes about such preachers though there are Bible verses to prove that we have authority to cast out demons. Then all of a sudden when their own kids get possessed and when medico-psychological help fails, they then sheepishly approach preachers who can exorcise. Again the preacher forgives them of their stupidity and simply goes on to help them out. Couldn’t have their read the Bible first before making fun of those who preach deliverance?
One of the people I hate the most are those who bully their preachers into preaching only what they want to hear. For instance, the people won’t put in donations if the preacher starts speaking about being a bright and responsible Christian at home, school and work. Yet if the preacher speaks loads of blessings without any responsibility then they will praise him to the clouds. Economic bullying in action, I’d say. While some people simply walk out on preachers who preach against wrong doing or having lack of faith in Jesus. They simply want to be validated about the state of sin they are living in. Surely such people will receive their reward from God for their disrespect.
One must always respect a teacher of the faith no matter how odd their methods seem. Even if you do not agree with them, you can speak politely to them. There’s always the Bible which you can reach for yourself to get the right idea on the Gospel topic that was preached to you. You still have your own choices to make because its your own soul that you are responsible for.