Pause for Thought – a five minute read – Week 49

Galatians 4

Mixed Messages

Due to the slight relaxation of the COVID restrictions that have recently been introduced, I had a visit from my daughter and my great granddaughter, Imogen. She is eighteen months old now and I have not seen her this year, apart from images on a mobile telephone screen. We had a really enjoyable afternoon in my garden, thankfully in warm sunshine.

They arrived about noon and departed about two thirty during which time Imogen never stopped running circuits of my garden, pushing a push-along car around the lawn or being pushed on a three wheeled trike around the lawn. Even in periods of, ‘rest’ she insisted on diving in and out of a pop up tent pretending it was a swimming pool. I have no idea where her energy came from but it was certainly not on a low tariff.

Eventually, it was time for them to leave and go home and as my daughter fastened the straps of Imogen’s car seat, there was a suggestion that Imogen would probably be asleep before the car reached the end of the road. I have my doubts about that, but it is quite possible that I will be asleep before the car got to the end of the road.

After they had left I reclined in my garden seat with a cup of coffee and realised why God, in his infinite wisdom, has designed human beings to have children while at a relatively young age. It is obviously the only time of life that they can keep up with the antics of their offspring.

However, this does not obviate grandparents from more sedentary responsibilities in the upbringing of their grandchildren and at some point in time the inevitable question will arise, ‘ Grandad, what do you know about long multiplication and division?’. Of course the answer has to be, ‘I know everything about long multiplication and division,’ after all I am Grandad. At this point the homework books suddenly appear accompanied by paper and pencils and grandad begins to regret such an impulsive reply to the original question.

Not to be deterred, the pencil glides across the paper and zeros are moved to the right and decimal points are moved accordingly and low and behold an answer appears at the bottom of the page, followed by a look of bewilderment and a statement of, ‘ We don’t do it like that at our school.’

Then follows a lesson on how they calculate such mathematical problems, ‘At our school,’ with vertical columns appearing and disappearing along with numbers and zeros, and eventually, as if by magic, the answer appears at the bottom of one of the columns.

‘That’s the answer.’ The child eagerly points with the pencil, and with a slightly smug smile adds, ‘And its right.’

I am speechless. It’s the same answer that I arrived at.

How could the education authorities have the audacity to change the method of calculating long multiplication and division after sixty five years without consulting me?

It has to be said that the home tuition, that has been recently imposed on many parents, does have its dangerous side, as mixed messages and variations in methods of working, can inevitably be confusing for the young student. It is for that reason I always stick to, ‘How it is done at our school’.

Mixed messages are something that is a reoccurring problem for Paul in his letters to his churches, particularly in his letter to the Galatians. Paul’s theology that he preached to the predominantly gentile congregation in Galatia was built around justification by faith in Jesus Christ, the good news of the gospel. This theological message was welcomed by the believers but in Paul’s absence, false teachers with Jewish allegiance, preached that believers must obey the Law of Moses before they could be one with God. As this was diametrically opposed to Paul’s teaching there was obviously confusion in the minds of the believers.

Paul maintained that that the Law only served to highlight the sins of the Jewish nation and that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our sins have been forgiven. Accordingly it is through faith in Jesus that we are saved and are one with God.

It was a complex issue, difficult to understand for the Jews so even more difficult for the gentiles. Thankfully as Christianity spread globally, Paul’s theology was accepted as being in line with that of Jesus Christ and the claims relating to the Jewish Law were overturned.

My grandchildren are now all grown up and passed the need for assistance in long multiplication and division. Conversations have now changed and terms such as ‘The Law of Probability’ and ‘Quantum Physics’, and ‘Calculus’ roll readily off the tongue, (theirs not mine). Even the gestation cycle of a dairy cow is an acceptable subject over Sunday tea.But Grandparents have a secret weapon called, ‘Wisdom’.  It is wise to listen, eat your meal and at the earliest opportunity, change the subject.

Derek T.