Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm Ashamed of my Quality Education

God can use anything and anyone for his purposes! We all know this to be true. Indeed, I wrote in my last "Ethics" post proclaiming that true humility is being comfortable with your own weakness because it is not your ability, but the Lord's that does all the work.

I have grown up my entire life hearing about how God uses the people who are weak specifically to show His strength all the more. The implication created by this was that the Lord can get more glory out of Joe Schmoe, a high school drop out, than with Dr. G.I. Feelbetter with three Ph.Ds and an IQ off the charts.

This implication is just flat out wrong! Yes, it is totally true that since all that is needed to serve the Lord is submission, the Lord will get glory out of a submissive Joe Schmoe. But it is nonsensical to say that a submissive Dr. G.I. Feelbetter would not meet the same end.

You see, the way I understand it, submission is all that is needed to serve the Lord, and a weak education has nothing to do with it.

Now I know some people here are thinking that I'm crazy for making this a blog post. After all, isn't it obvious that education is not a hindrance to service? One would think so, but I see in some of my Christian circles a startling rejection of education.

Though certainly not universal, when I was starting to work deeper to further my education through means such as debate, or even heading here to Cedarville University (it's pretty swell here by the way), there was limited support not for me as an individual, nor for my particular ways to further my education, but for the whole process of education in the first place.

I'm seeing a society emerge in the church where true education is simply unnecessary and dangerous. But I never see the Lord tell us that we need to be ignorant in order to be used by God. I cannot find one verse in the Bible that can even be misinterpreted to mean that the Lord wants us to be stupid. Such a verse does not exist.

Indeed, if we look to one of the greatest men in the early church, we see clear evidence that God can and will use the educated - the great apostle Paul. Paul had, of course, what we would consider today a secular education. Trained as a Pharisee, he understood the ins and outs of all the reasons why some Jews would not accept Christ.

Rather, than being an impediment to his ministry, his education was able to greatly increase it. Along his journeys, he had to deal with several belligerent Jews and answer their arguments accordingly. Thankfully, the Lord had equipped him to do so with his formal training.

Paul was even able to communicate formally to several government officials and actually have them listen to him. Now if government officials were anything like they are today, that is quite an impressive feat! If Paul hadn't been educated, God certainly could have used him still, but not in the same way. Perhaps Paul would have had just as much of an impact, but it wouldn't have been the same impact.

It is important to note that Paul's education was God's equipping tool, but Paul understood that he still needed God to wield it correctly. Paul wrote several of the verses we quote to remind us that God's is whose strength we need. Take a look at some examples:
"For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." ~II Corinthians 12:8-10
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." ~Galatians 5:16 
"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." ~Philippians 3:3-8 

As if Paul wasn't enough, we can take a brief glimpse at the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel follows the lives of "Daniel and his fellows" (specifically, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nago) from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to that of King Darius of the Medo-Persians. Through this, there are many stories that show God's strength and protection.

But let's remember one thing - not one of them was likely to happen had Daniel and his fellows been poorly educated. Look at Daniel 1:3-7,
"And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego."

Note from these verses that Daniel and his fellows were placed in their position because of natural beauty, yes. But also because they were "skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science... and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans."

The Lord orchestrated that these four would have these particular positions, so that we can have the message about "purposing in your heart" from Daniel 1, the story of the fiery furnace in Daniel 3, even the story of the writing of the wall in Daniel 5, and of course, the story of Daniel and the lion's den in chapter 6. Had these men not been educated, the book of Daniel would have looked completely different.

So yes, God has used the uneducated. But no, God does not only use the uneducated. Submission is all that is needed for one to serve the Lord, and if that takes you to getting three Ph.D.s, fantastic. I will be scared to speak with you, but it's still pretty fantastic. If submitting to the Lord causes you to drop out of high school, hey, that's pretty fantastic, too!

Let's not be caught in a delusion either way. Let's not focus so much on education being unnecessary for serving the Lord that we consider it a detriment. If used for the right reason, it can pay great dividends in our service to the Lord.

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