Ahhh, Septemberwhen children whimper because they have to go back to school, and parents whoop it up because their children are going back to school. Suddenly, like mushrooms sprouting after a prolonged rain, there are Back to School traffic signs, tailgate stickers, class signups, and clothing sales. Meet the teacher, make the check out, drive the van, and don't forget the lunch boxit's time to learn.
I tried returning to school recently, but it was too late. When I charted my anticipated progress, I realized that I would collect my degree, Social Security, and pension on the same day! Hardly worth the expense and effort. But that didn't mean I was too old to learn. One is never too old to learn. In fact, when one ceases to learn, one ceases to live well.
One of my favorite quotations is from my former pastor and seminary president, Dr. E. Robert Jordan. He told us wide-eyed students that "God is the only One Who never, ever learned anything." How true (Job 21:22). And, He is the only One of Whom that can be said. Jesus Christ himself was a learner, even though he was God in human form.
After telling the story about Jesus baffling the teachers in the temple at age 12, Luke says, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (2:52). Notice, by the way, how growth in wisdom is tied in with growth in stature and favor with God and men. There is no value in being ignorant.
So, if the Son of God had to learn and grow, where does that leave us? When that last mortarboard is tossed into the air and that last sheepskin is hung on the office wall, does that signal the end of the learning process?
Perhaps we cannot return to formal schooling, but we can keep our eyes and ears open. We can learn to be better friends, spouses, family members, workers, worshippers, and whatever else we are called to do. We can start new hobbies or dust off old ones. We can read, write, go places, and do things. We can try new foods and make new friends. We can run through the fields and sit quietly in the woods. We can silence our TVs, cell phones, and iPodsand even our lips! There are many opportunities to learn.
What is the most important subject? God, of courseand this knowledge takes many forms. There is the knowledge of God Himself: "Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord" (Jeremiah 9:24). With that knowledge comes the knowledge of Christ: "It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me" (John 6:45). How do we acquire this knowledge? From God's Word: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV). The Bible is the source for everything we need to know to live a good life.
A lack of formal schooling can be detrimental to one's progress in modern society. However, a lack of Biblical knowledge can be devastating. Listen to what the Lord says: "Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call on the Lord?" (Psalm 14:4). A lack of true knowledge is the equivalent of ignoring God, and leads to bondage. Jesus said, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
Life is a continuing education for those who are open to learning. If Jesus had to grow in wisdom and stature, you and I cannot afford to drop out of school. Here is the best Back to School motto we could imagine: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). Don't let your Continuing Education program lapse!
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