“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” II Timothy 3:14-15
This was the epistle reading in church last Sunday, and the words I highlighted jumped out for me. It made me think about all the people who’ve taught me about the faith. What was their motivation to do so?
For many people, learning starts at home at a young age. Maybe your mother sings hymns, you sit beside your father in the pew, your grandparents give you a Bible or read the Bible to you. Studies have revealed that when someone is asked this question: “who had the greatest influence on my faith?”, the most frequent answer is “my mother.” Surely this teaching is motivated by the love called “storge,” family love, duty, affection. This love may have its’ ups and downs, but it never stops caring. Many parents want their children to know about God because they love them in this way. Paul’s acolyte, Timothy, learned in this way because Paul says to him:
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” II Timothy 1:5
Growing in faith can be part of married life also. “Eros” is a love which desires closeness and union. How can we be fully one, if we are not both one in Christ? This kind of love will create a natural desire to share in everything, to teach the other to love Christ as they do. Peter says:
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives…” 1 Peter 3:1
Then there are our friends. With them we share “philea” or brotherly love. In Via de Cristo there is a saying, “make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ.” Most people who are unchurched, come to worship for the first time because a friend invited them. Because we love our friends, we want them to share in the joy of fellowship with Christ. We invite them to do the things that have been most meaningful in our own faith walk.
Finally, there are loads of people who share Christ simply because they love everyone as He did. Dedicated Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, pastors, choir directors and others. This is agape love, with no motive except to serve and edify others.
So it seems to me that some sort of love is the motive behind all Christian teaching. No wonder the Bible says “God is love. How would we learn about His love, how would we begin to experience it, without the love of others who spread it? Think about the many people from whom you have learned. Give thanks for their love.