Terry’s Take… Back to School

Well, the end of August in Canada signals the time to go “back to school.”

And while this blog is aimed at students returning to the classroom…it applies equally to everyone who desires to keep learning how to live the Christan Faith.

Whether you’re a freshman or senior, you’re going to need more than notebooks, pencils, and a strong book bag. You need truth. Sure, you’re going to school, willingly or unwillingly, to learn, but there are truths you need before the algebra, literature, and biology. While you should develop good study habits for the new semester… here are some real keys to the classroom you probably won’t find in your syllabus.

Thinking may be the most critical thing you ever do.

You’re going to school to learn how to think, not to pass tests.

Whatever Christians do with their lives, whether we eat or drink or run a company or teach second grade or develop software or change diapers, we aim to do it to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).  If you’ve tried it… you know it’s rarely simple. It requires careful thought and discernment.

Pastor and author John Piper writes: “The well-educated person is the person who has the habits of mind and heart to go on learning what he needs to learn to live in a Christ-exalting way for the rest of his life — and that would apply to whatever sphere of life he pursues.”

If we’re going to apply God’s word to the world, we need to know our world. Every chapter in a history book, every science experiment in the lab, every interaction between classmates is an opportunity to learn about the world God created — the place he especially put us to see him, enjoy him, and help others do the same.

The most important book you’ll read this fall is your Bible.

Because of all the assigned pages, you’ll be tempted to sideline your Bible reading until the next test has passed, the next paper is done, or the next break is here. Instead, treat your time in the Bible like your daily meal.

Your time soaking in scripture will be the most fruitful and shaping time of your education. Nothing can replace the wealth you will find there, and nothing will prepare you better for life, family, vocation, or even your next class.

Again, Piper pleads, “Let us labor to memorize the Word of God — for worship and for warfare. If we don’t wear it, we can’t wield it. If we do not carry it in our heads, we cannot savor it in our hearts or wield it in the Spirit.”

Lastly, comparison in the classroom can be the birthplace of pride.

God opposes the proud  (James 4:6). Pride is dangerous, really dangerous. No one opposes God and survives, much less wins. Your pride will defile you (Matt. 7:20-23) and keep you out of the kingdom. Your humility, however, testifies to God’s forgiveness of your sin and his grace at work in you.

The classroom… and the “classroom of life” in a larger sense… nurtures a culture of comparison. Pride can certainly begin before our education, but school’s grades, awards, and social dynamics seem to breed the wrong kind of competition — a self-seeking kind.  Piper once encouraged a group of young ambitious dreamers to distinguish between influence and fame. He said it is a good and honorable thing to want to change the world… but it’s wicked to want to be known for it.

Let’s try and be quick to celebrate others (Romans 12:10) slow to speak, especially about our own successes, and slow to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Remember you are a sinner bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and that in all your good papers, projects, and tests, it is God working through you for his glory (Philippians 2:13).