In light of God’s ultimate plans and desires for mankind, our methods and direction of education must follow in His wisdom and knowledge. To do this and be effective means we must first examine God’s priorities. We discover this as we read Matthew 22:36-40: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
The obvious conclusion here is that the two most important things God would have us learn are …
1) how to magnify God in our lives until we love Him with everything that we are and have, then,
2) how to provide for and protect our neighbors as we already do for ourselves, which is saying simply that we practice genuine [agape] love. These two combined with the great commission [three other purposes] must surpass all other goals and purposes in our lives.
Therefore, our general education philosophy must be to fulfill these five great God given purposes. We must be agents of change in our kids and students’ lives. Our knowledge of science must be to so magnify God that when mastered our students will be amazed at His handiwork and with all their hearts proclaim God is awesome! This means our English classes must be taught to build our student’s reading and writing level up to the place that each student can comprehend God’s Word fully and obey His commandments, benefit from His vast wisdom, join in His worldwide purposes, and communicate His greatness to all the world. Each of our departments of education are to fulfill God’s primary purposes.
This would mean then, that our primary focus is not giving people a happier life. This would mean our job is not to just fill their heads up with bits of knowledge. But instead, it is our duty to make them mature disciples in thought and lifestyle and thus prepare them with the foundational tools of learning and wisdom to glorify God and love their neighbor in whatever life purpose God calls them.
Filtering all learning through the Bible, we are to educate them in science, history, mathematics, social sciences, political science, etc. so that they can make wise healthy choices in life that reduces their chances of failure in family relationships, career pressures, church ministry, or government leadership. In fact God wants his people to be leaders and stand tall above all others while they magnify Him with their lives and care for those around them. “Study to show yourself approved unto God…”
What do I mean by these grand ideas? First, let us look at God’s timing for the visitation of Jesus to this planet. He came 2000 years ago. No television, radio, or Internet. The only means of communication was speaking and writing. If He waited and instead came today, He could have video taped all His life, shown everyone the miracles, raised the dead, interviewed with Larry King, given FOX rights to broadcast His crucifixion, then allowed scientists to test his corpse before He was raised from the dead. Instead He gave us a book, the Bible.
Now to really know how to love Him fully and care for others we must go to school! The dark ages of history proved when men are ignorant, disaster results! Unless I learn to read I can’t figure out what God is like or what He wants from me.
Then, in the Bible He talks about creating the universe, life, and the rest. If I don’t study science I can’t understand what He means. When I fail to understand scientific laws and principles I become deceived by evolutionists and other pointless theories.
He says we need to soar like an eagle, what’s an eagle? Suddenly, to glorify God I am forced to learn about biology and other aspects of this world He put me in!
How can I really love Him and receive His love unless I know what He is like? Now I must study history to find out how He has interacted with other people and nations. How should I live? Why do I need clothes? What is a family? Why work? What’s wrong with killing my irritating neighbor? What is truth? How can I express my love to God? God demands that we learn!
Finally, how can we tell if someone has learned? A coach can tell if a player is equipped for his role when he gets into the pressure cooker of a real game and follows all the instructions from his coaches and succeeds. A simple 50 question true and false test would tell the coach nothing. A coach who lectured all practice time and then took his players to a game would surely lose also!
Only when the players work together, fulfill their roles, and accomplish the tasks against strong opposition and win will we say the team and the coach are successful. In the same way a disciple has learned when he obeys all Christ’s commands on a regular basis under the pressures of life.
Until we integrate God’s methods of learning into our passive listening style of our education system we will not equip our children to glorify God and change their lives as God intended. Interactive learning, mutual sharing and exhorting, mission trips, ministry tours, creation science projects, etc. are the way of understanding and wisdom. Mentoring and experimenting truly test and develop the character and knowledge necessary to please God.
Remember Jesus involved his new disciples, then sent them on short term mission trips, then called them back, and taught them more. They were constantly learning and growing while Christ preached repentance, proclaimed the kingdom message, healed the sick, raised the dead, and washed their feet.
In the church, the only proof of true learning is when the disciples of Jesus Christ resolve their conflicts at home, work or school, when they love their neighbors as themselves, when they are contented to respect and obey their authorities, when they gather as the church and freely praise God and worship Him in spirit and truth, when they find their place in the body and help fulfill the Great Commission, when they travel on mission trips with joy proclaiming the Good News of Jesus, when they stand against evil in the community or in the political arena, when they live as salt and light instead of falling into all kinds of sin, self absorption, and the love of pleasure.
This is what Jesus taught from the very beginning. “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:13-17 (NLT)
As parents, pastors, leaders, and teachers only then will we know that we have done our jobs, not before!
Remember Jesus made disciples [active, obedient, disciplined learners] not like our modern day “Christians” [inactive, disobedient, shallow listeners]. The disciple is the only type that Jesus gave his time and teaching to, the freeloaders and skeptics he told confusing stories [parables].
Know the Different Types of People According to Matthew 13
a. Hard hearts [not interested, won’t learn]
b. Shallow hearts [temporally excited, quits]
c. Distracted hearts [family, hobbies, job, fun]
d. Receptive hearts [committed disciples of Jesus]
We must devote ourselves to the few who are receptive and want to mature in the faith, not on the halfhearted and disinterested. Paul explained it to Timothy like this, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” 2 Timothy 2:2.
Paul went further with Timothy and warned him how hard it will be to find true disciples in the church. 2 Tim. 4:1-4 states: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
We must major on what God says is major, and minor on what God says is minor. We need to change our focus, our style, and our direction to God’s way found in His Word. God will bless nothing we do unless it is in submission to His instruction.
James 3:1 warns, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”