Jesus said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
When I was in my first call, the congregation where I served was a struggling church. We had a huge building with a sanctuary with high ceilings, pillars down the aisles, a big balcony and a huge organ. We had three floors of classrooms. We had a big kitchen and fellowship hall. When I started we had virtually no off street parking.
Resources were tight and tensions were high. People were very attached to how they did things. Unfortunately, most of the things didn’t work well any more. That huge sanctuary had only about 40 people in it each week. That organ accompanied a choir of 4 people who couldn’t sing as loud as the quietest settings on the organ allowed.
Renewal required a lot of work. Some of it was physical work – there was a lot to fix up and renew about that old building. But most of it was spiritual and emotional energy. Working with people when some of the people were working against the work was energy draining, emotionally draining and slow going. Tensions were high. Fights were common.
During a congregational meeting, as we were talking about the budget, there was a proposal to eliminate continuing education. The key antagonist got up and said, “Pastor, you’ve been to seminary. If you don’t know it by now I don’t think you’re ever going to know it.” Assumption. A time comes when you stop learning. If we didn’t know everything by now, it was likely we were just too stupid to have learned what we should have.
Contrast that with Jesus’ method. He has taught the disciples like no other teacher could have taught. They have listened, watched, practiced, debriefed with the master. But as he gets ready to leave he let’s them know. “Never assume you know it all already. There is much more to teach and much more to learn.
To do this, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. When we open ourselves up to God, the Spirit continues to move in our lives, teach us in new ways, and transform and do the work God wants to do in us and through us. So, if you think you are done learning, take time to rethink that. Jesus’ message to the disciples is “you are never done learning.” The gift of the Holy Spirit makes sure that learning can happen and that what we learn comes from God.