“Not exactly Michael. That’s good, but I want you to watch me again and then do what I’m doing. Here goes.” Drive by my house on a sunny afternoon these days and that’s what you’ll hear. Assuming that the temperature cooperates and gets to at least 40 degrees, you’ll see me and my son Michael out in the driveway – shooting some hoops.
Yeah it’s cold, and yeah there are still piles of snow on the grass, and yeah we know we’re going to get in trouble for not wearing our jackets (shhhh….don’t tell Marianne), but we still do it anyway. He loves playing and I absolutely love coaching him up and helping him get better – that’s what being a dad is all about!
In the process of teaching him, I’ve learned quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to teaching something new. Obviously, any kid can pick up a ball and throw it towards the rim. The concept isn’t difficult.
But I don’t want him to just shoot the ball; I want him shoot the ball THE RIGHT WAY. Shooting the right way isn’t easy or natural. It takes understanding and practice. But if he can learn the right way at a young age, it’ll increase his chances of success (and my chances of retiring early because my kid plays in the NBA) significantly.
So what's the best way to teach someone something new?
I could try to teach him by TALKING/EXPLAINING how to do it: “Pick up the ball in your right hand and keep it on your fingertips, not your palms. Place your left hand to the side but make sure you’re only using that hand as a guide – all the weight needs to be on your right hand. Spread your feet, bend your knees, eye on the rim, keep your elbow straight and let the ball spin off your fingers to create backspin and VOILA! Now you’re a pro!”
I could try to teach him by DRAWING A PICTURE: “Michael, look at this diagram to the right. Study it well and then go outside and try to do the same thing. Good luck, I’ll be here on the couch watching TV. Call me if you need anything.”
Hearing an explanation is good. Seeing a diagram is great. Bu by far the most effective way to teach my kid to shoot a basketball is to put on my sneakers, brave the cold weather, pick up a basketball and SHOW HIM HOW’S IT DONE!
Last week I wrote about “Why Did Jesus Really Come to Us.” We agreed that He came for MORE THAN JUST OUR SALVATION. Yes, He came for our salvation, but He didn’t just come for our salvation. Saying that He only came for our salvation makes Christianity merely an “after-death” thing as opposed to a “while-we’re-alive” thing.
In other words, Jesus didn’t come to show us how to die; He came to show us how to live.
Like me with my son, our Heavenly Father looked down from heaven and saw that His kids needed help. They/we didn’t know how to live properly. Ever since things went wrong in the Garden of Eden, something wasn’t right. We lost track of how we are supposed to live. We fell victim to the deceit of the wicked one and began living for ourselves and our sinful pleasures; instead of living for the glory of our Creator.
“God created the human being for incorruptibility and an image of His own eternity; but by the envy of the devil, death entered into the world.” (Wisdom 2:23-24)
In other words, we weren’t living the right way. We weren’t living in the image of God. We weren’t living as sons of the Most High. We were living THE WRONG WAY.
So what does God do? Send instructions? Draw us a picture? NO! He did what any good dad would do. He put on His coat (human nature) and came down into our world and showed us how it’s done. He showed us how to live THE RIGHT WAY.
That’s what Christmas is all about. It’s a celebration of the Infinite/Immortal/Immeasurable God taking on our human nature through His Incarnation and dwelling amongst us here on earth. He did so not to condemn us, but to give us a real life example of how life is to be lived here on this earth.
How should we pray? As Jesus did. How should we fight temptation? As Jesus did. How should we relate to one another? As Jesus did. How should we treat the poor? As Jesus did. How should we “get back” at our enemies? As Jesus did. How should we treat our parents? As Jesus did. How should we mourn? As Jesus did. How should we live? As Jesus did.
Go ahead and ask any question and the answer is AS JESUS DID. Why? Because Jesus is our example.
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage… Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God” (Hebrews 2:14-17)
He became like us so we could become like Him. He came to show us how to live.
For discussion: how do you see Jesus’ Incarnation changing the way you are called to live today? Does it? How/why?