Tuesday, October 16, 2012

a beautiful paradox

In the quiet stillness of the sunlit room, alone, I sat listening as the breeze rattled the last leaves on the trees. Tucked away in my bright, sunny, secluded room, I came to think and reflect. In the tranquil atmosphere, I could not help but pause and ponder the text I had just read.

Trying to picture myself in the cell of this man, I searched for something deep inside of me that would enable me to endure fourteen years of imprisonment under the Communists. How long would I be willing to suffer for Christ? My spirit was overwhelmed with the account of horrendous tortures, horrific abuse, and anguishing pain. But there was something much deeper and greater that my soul felt.

There was something beautiful.

Amidst the persecution, there was love. Through the loss, there was unfading hope. In the midst of suffering, there was self-sacrifice. This story about a man who suffered for Christ, who prayed for his torturers, and who never ceased praised God that he was counted worthy to sufferthis life radiated with a beauty beyond anything any earthly eye could behold. The courage, the faithfulness, the unconditional love; this is a beauty the world is not worthy of knowing.

There is something overwhelming beautiful about self-sacrifice and loss for something, someone greater. It doesn't make sense to earthly logic, but it is transcendentally beautiful.

exultation through humility
strength through weakness
freedom through serving
gaining through losing
living through dying

Perhaps true beauty is a paradox, like many other aspects of the Christian life. So, in the quiet stillness of that windowed room, I prayed that my life might be a beautiful paradox, too.

The book referenced to is Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

what is education?

To you, the student:

Maybe you feel like you're running an obstacle course. You probably spend the majority of your morning and afternoon hours sitting in classes, listening to lectures, and doing homework. (Or if you're homeschooled, just doing homework.) You must learn the facts, memorize the equations, and write the papers. With every assignment, you dutifully complete it—or at least do as little as you can get away with—in order to gain the tools you will someday need to make a living. For now, you are just enduring school, every requirement bringing you ever closer to that glorious end: graduation. Whether your educational journey ends with your high school diploma or your college diploma, you are most certainly anticipating the day when you will "arrive" and receive the certification declaring that you have successfully jumped through all the necessary hoops. You have been adequately prepared for the "real world." Congratulations! You've done it. You have successfully completed your education.

Or have you?

It is a common assumption to view education as means to an end. It is something you must begin in order to bring about a desired cause (in which case you will have reached the end). However, contrary to popular belief, this is not what education is—at least, education according to the Bible. 

The Biblical view says that we never "arrive." The process of becoming Christ-like is on-going and constant. We must take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23), continually die to ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:11), and always be being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). While we certainly do have the hope of heaven, there is no "finish line" for the Christian. In the same way, education does not have a "finish line," but rather education is an end in itself....

As a Christian, it doesn't matter what you do—whether you're an engineer, an actor, a musician, a construction worker, or a preacher. Everything you do is sacred. There is no distinction between sacred and secular in the Christian life. The same goes for education. We are called to be in a constant accumulation of understanding, both in our view of God and our view of the world. With God, education is more than just a "coupon for life" that you redeem for a job in the "real world." Education's purpose reaches far beyond passing a test to the entirely more magnificent end of glorifying God with our minds

Maybe you're still in school; or maybe you've already graduated. Maybe you're already retired! Whatever the case, you are still called to be a hard thinker for Christ. The Bible commands us to love God with everything, including our minds (Matthew 22:37). If we adopt the mindset that education more than mere knowledge or a ticket to the work force, then we will begin the journey of perpetual learning for the glory of God. 

We want to think big thoughts about God. We want to develop our God-given skills. We want to work hard to strengthen our weaknesses. We want to think critically, and all for the Lord Jesus Christ! So let us not view school as an obstacle course, dodging our way around hurtles and doing our best to just get by. And while it is absolutely fine to look forward to graduation, let's not assume that our education will then be complete. Though we will never "arrive" or be complete in this life, we have a goal we're aiming for in everything we do: the glory of God. As you finish out this school year, keep in mind what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5:

"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ."