Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Blessing of Teachers

In 1947, a professor at the University of Chicago, Dr. Chandrasekhar, was scheduled to teach an advanced seminar in astrophysics. At the time, he was living in Wisconsin, doing research at the Yerkes Astronomical Observatory. He planned to commute twice a week for the class, even though it would be held during the harsh winter months.

Registration for the seminar, however, fell far below expectations. Only two signed up for the class. People expected Dr. Chandrasekhar to cancel the seminar, lest he waste his time. But for the sake of the two students, he taught the class, commuting 100 miles through back country roads in the dead of winter.

His students, Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee, did their homework. Ten years later, in 1957, they both won the Nobel prize for physics. So did Dr. Chandrasekhar, in 1983.

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They toil away in relative obscurity, but their contributions to the church are immeasurable. This can be said of so many Christian who quietly serve the Lord and his church, never seeking notoriety for themselves, but giving their all for the benefit of others. I speak about a group of men and women who are unknown to many within the fellowship of Churches of Christ. I speak of the professors and scholars who serve in the Bible departments of our colleges and universities.

My life has been deeply affected by the likes of Charles Stephenson, Leon Crouch, Jesse Long, Tim Hadley, and Steve Joiner. These men, and many others like them, taught me the Bible and prepared me for a life in ministry. I am a preacher because of their selfless efforts to ready me for the task.

I describe their efforts as selfless because they have not been greatly rewarded doe their work in wealth or fame. They teach young, aspiring preachers and ministers out of their convictions that Christ is Lord and his Word is the source of life. They teach because they love the Lord's church and desire to see the gospel spread to every corner of the world.

Their work is often met with skepticism. For reasons that escape me, Biblical scholarship is too often met with harsh criticism and the belief that formal, educated, and disciplined study of the Bible seeks to undermine the Word of God. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Such study, at least in the circles with which I am familiar, seeks to affirm God's Word and understand it with all the insight and ability God provides.

How many members of our churches are familiar with the likes of Jack P. Lewis, Thomas Olbricht, Everett Ferguson, Carroll Osburn, Abraham Malherbe, and Carl Holliday, and so many others who have given their lives to the study of Scripture and to the instruction of those who preach in our churches? They toil away in relative obscurity, but their contributions to the Lord's people is beyond measure.

Let us count our blessings.