Keep those shoes tied just a few minutes longer before you go get your house shoes. The scholars explain:
Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has 'cursed' us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can't readily re-create our listeners' state of mind. (Cron, p. 62)
If we really learn something, it is hard to put ourselves in our students' sandals. The longer we know something, the harder it is to sympathize with those who have never heard of that knowledge before. The less we sympathize, the more we will teach over their heads. The more we teach over their heads, the more they will become sour on learning. The teaching will become the pebble in the shoe, not a wonderful new pair of shoes to grow into.
In our excitement to share our Hebraic knowledge, often we forget what it was like not to know words like
Torah, Yeshua, teshuva, moedim, Shabbat, and so forth. We tumble out those wonderful, spiritually-rich words as fast as we can go, and our friend or family member looks at us like we're Michael J. Fox playing heavy metal on
Back to the Future.
We're too far ahead of their time and experience, and we've forgotten what it was like not to know. We no longer communicate, we just feel like experts that no one else "gets." They just need to try harder to understand! What, are they spiritually dull? They "should" or "ought" to catch on!
Our potential students limp away to find their house shoes, and we polish our shiny, expert, combat boots. A winner of the National Book Award can even forget and start writing above her reader's comprehension.
One reader wrote to a former prizewinning author:
Who is it that you are writing for? It surely could not be the average person.
Cron writes in response to the question:
We are all that average person. Big words? They're pebbles in those shoes, ironically distracting the reader from the very story they're meant to tell.
The lesson of Acts Two is to speak in a known tongue so others can understand, not so you can feel special, correct, and smart. You didn't learn what you know overnight, and you have a hard time remembering what it was like NOT to know it. When you were a good Christian going to church every Sunday, how would you have felt if someone started labeling your sincere faith as "false," "deception," or "Babylon"? A few people will be intrigued by such charged language, but most will not.
Truth will convict the open heart of that which is false. No need to scare or insult anyone with the Word when the Holy Spirit is more than adequate to initiate, educate, and complete the transformation of the heart, each in its time. Don't be angry with someone who is not a first fruit for not being a first fruit. They'll probably ripen later. We pray so.
A good teacher will try to re-create the feeling of not knowing as she plans her lesson. She will introduce new words gradually and only when relevant to the lesson. It is too difficult to remember new words and concepts out of context, especially for adults.
The Shoe on the Other Foot
On the other foot, we need to be willing to learn above our current level. That means that we need to read or study from teachers who do know more and who challenge us with new words, concepts, and ways of looking at the Word. I remember sitting through one of Alister McGrath's lectures at Oxford, and after ten minutes, I gave up and put away my notebook. Dr. McGrath earned a doctorate in astrophysics before he earned one in theology. I could spell the words. He could debate Stephen Hawking and win. I knew who Stephen Hawking was.
He was too smart, and I only understood a fraction of what he said. It was better to just concentrate on the words and absorb whatever I could. When I learned more about philosophy and apologetics, I could go back and read his work. I would understand more then, but I still learned a few valuable things that I could incorporate into a paper. If I'd attended his lectures weekly, I'd have eventually grasped his way of teaching, learned his vocabulary, and become a sharper thinker.
Yeshua gave an example when he healed a blind person in steps. At first, the man saw people like trees walking. Next his vision cleared. Hearing the Word is the same. Yeshua heals deafness, which we all have; otherwise, we would not be urged to have "ears to hear" so many times. If we keep studying Torah, we'll lay down new layers of understanding even when we feel as though we don't get it. You really don't want that expert teacher not to inspire you to attain greater goals. She will keep you working, researching, and experimenting with new sources and techniques.
Don't feel discouraged if it seems too tall a mountain and the hiking boots too heavy and stiff. The Spirit reveals truth in packets and layers of information that can absorb over time, breaking in those wonderful new shoes. Sometimes we desperately want to have answers about certain Scriptural topics, and we become obsessed with them to the exclusion of fundamentals in the Word, especially the Torah, which underpins every line of prophecy. Hide it in your heart, and in due time, you'll be amazed at the connections you can make.
Don't be afraid of feeling dumb. It's a great feeling! The alternative is to resort to wearing house shoes every day. We see that when believers become "one-topic" teachers of the Torah, forcing it on everyone even when the shoe doesn't fit the need. They harp on one issue, flooding everyone with their heavy-metal concert.
When no one listens, they either feel resentful, as though they're a misunderstood prophet, or they become angry, trolling and taking names of those who agree or disagree. That's worse than being the pebble in someone's shoe; it's being what's on the bottom of it.
We should never be so proud that we're unwilling to feel dumb in the presence of someone who knows more in a subject. Learn above your level, and you'll eventually break in those new shoes and put those house shoes in the closet for when you want to relax and say "Ahhh, that was easy!"
So should we make our lessons simple or hard?
If we are teachers, we don't apologize for our education or experience. We do try to remember what it was like not to know what we know and help the learner learn. Our education is to serve others, not for us to feel like experts.
If we are students, we acquire a teacher who will help us understand the issues of Torah we need today, but who will inspire us to reach higher.
And that's a pair of yes-shoes that will climb the Mountain.