There are moments in our Christian walk when we hear the rooster crow, and realize we have blown it in our attempts to follow Jesus’ Way in our interactions with others. Let me share a story of a day when I heard the rooster crow. I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw.
Thus, Paul’s personal presence and teaching authority were weighty for sure—not due to his own superior wisdom or human capabilities, but by virtue of his claim to carry around in his body and ministry the indwelling presence, power and message of Christ by the Spirit.
In this section of my thesis, I touch a hot stove, hinting that part and parcel to the wisdom tradition of Jesus and Paul and most teachers through the ages is the acknowledgement that God gives to the church certain individuals with a special calling and training to be sages and wise experts in the spiritual life. This rubs many Americans the wrong way.
Michael Wilkins introduces the rabbinic concept of shimmush which means “attending upon and coming under the personal influence of the teacher and learning from his deportment. “But shimmush itself was a study of Torah,” Wilkins continues, “because the rabbi’s life was to be an embodiment of Torah.”
In many parts of the West, Christians find themselves being pushed to the periphery of power and influence after centuries of privilege. Fear, anger, nostalgia, and retaliation are not how Christ’s people are to respond when their circumstances change or their cultural authority is taken away.