Throughout history mankind has seemed to flock to persons that exhibited great wisdom. The Greeks, perhaps more so than any other civilization, had numerous great thinkers. Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates are just a few of the more famous philosophers that came from Greece, but there were many, many more. People would transverse land and sea for an opportunity to listen just once to one of these great orators. From these “learned” men schools were developed, perhaps the most famous of these were the sophists. While these schools no longer exist the influence of the sophists is still felt as nearly ever sermon preached utilizes their methods of delivering rhetoric. The influence of these men and teachers were so far reaching that Socrates was actually put to death for treason. They felt that he was unnecessarily stirring up the youth of his day against the leaders of the Greek cities.
The Jews also had their great teachers. In New Testament times we read of men like Gamaliel. It was such an honor to study under him that it was by special invitation only handed out to the top students in the Jewish schools. (Reading the writings of Paul helps us to see the results of such teaching as he was very, very learned in the law and the teachings of other cultures). And even though there were other teachers, when men like Gamaliel spoke up, others tended to listen. Consider the occasion when the Sanhedrin was ready to punish Peter and John and Gamaliel warned them that if this was from God there would be nothing they could do to stop it, but if it were from man, it would eventually bring about its own end (Acts 5:34-40).
Today, people don’t really flock to hear teachers like that anymore. When massive groups of people turn up to hear someone it is usually one of two groups. Some will gather to hear a political persona. They gather to hear his rhetoric on the state of the union, what his/her goals are for our future. These men and woman are not necessarily great teachers, learned persons or even all that wise. Who are they? They are people who have a magnetic personality. They are a people that have a natural charisma about them. They are a people that have the ability to get the masses behind them because of how they say what they say, and interestingly enough what they look like when they say it. Don’t believe me? Just look at the types of presidents we have had over the last 50 years. JFK the youngest was known for having an affair with Marilyn Monroe and for his moving speeches. We elected a former actor. Bill Clinton went on shows like Arsenio Hall and played his saxophone and our current president has bankrupted our nation and broken nearly every promise he made in his 1st term and still won the reelection. It was not about what he said, it was about how he said it and when he looked like when he said it. He looked powerful, confident, etc. Our nation believes that is a type of person worthwhile listening to.
If the masses aren’t showing up to the next political rally, they are showing up to be entertained. The flock to concerts to hear their favorite musicians. They flock to the stadiums to watch their favorite teams play. Or, they stumble all over themselves to catch a glimpse of one of these entertainers in person. While I am not saying it is wrong to be entertained, these particular entertainers are not exactly schooled in intellectual thought and yet, they still feel the need to provide their personal rhetoric when a microphone is placed in front of them. Rock bands like System of a Down, Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine not only speak out against conservatism, right to life and the national government, but many of their songs played on the radio waves spew their propaganda (in the 60s we saw much of this as well). Sometimes what the entertainer has to say comes with immediate backlash. To this day, Mel Gibson is ostracized for his comments about Jews. But, other times these entertainers persuade the masses to follow them. Men like George Clooney have used their spot light to attempt to lead his followers in a particular direction.
It seems that our nation is willing to listen to anyone who is given a stage to speak upon. They don’t care about their credentials. The fact that they are there is all that is needed. As a result I think this nation is in dire need of a real teacher.
Of course, the greatest teacher this world ever had was born in a small town. He was never wealthy. He never attended schools of the great teachers. He didn’t have some magnificent platform to speak upon. There was no TMZ sticking a microphone in his face. And yet humility and meekness and message brought men by the thousands. This is the teacher we need to be giving a platform to in our life. We need to be spending more time listening to him, than modern “philosophers” who know nothing.
Grinnell church of Christ
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Here Am I, Hear Me
Volume 5 Issue 32