A Challenge When Seeking High Education

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29  But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, 30  not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. 31  And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts. But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.
1  If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2  If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3  If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. 1 Corinthians 12:29-13:3 (MSG)

For our purpose it will suffice to recall how Augustine tried to sum up the essential part of the Pentecost narrative: World history, he says, is a struggle between two kinds of love—love of self that ends in hatred of God, and love of God that ends in the renunciation of self. This second love is the redemption of the world and of the self. In my opinion, it would already be a significant achievement if the days of Pentecost would turn us from the thoughtless use of our leisure time to a sense of our responsibility; if they would lead us—beyond the merely rational, beyond that knowledge that can be stored up and used in planning—to a rediscovery of “spirit”, of the responsibility inseparable from truth, and of the values of conscience and love. Even if, at first, we should not arrive at what is, in the narrowest sense, strictly Christian, we should, nevertheless, already be touching the hem of Christ and his Spirit.  (1)

350    In addition to being a good Christian, it’s not enough to be a scholar. If you don’t correct your rudeness, if you make your zeal and your knowledge incompatible with good manners, I don’t see how you can ever become a saint. And, even if you are a scholar—in spite of being a scholar—you should be tied to a stall, like a mule.  (2)

Every year about this time, I consider going back to school part-time.  I have had some people that have encouraged it in the past, and again a few are doing so, even now.   To get a doctorate, either a DMin or a Ph.D.   There is some interest, some desire to be challenged.  Even as I do consider this, there is a fear of the change that I know could occur.   A distancing of myself from my people, from understanding their lives, from speaking their language.  This is without a doubt, one of my biggest fears, the loss of the ability to communicate clearly.

I fear this, partially because I know myself, I love to absorb rather than simply memorize, and that means I forget that others may not use the same language I have acquired.  It’s happened before, and I’ve seen it happen to others.  I don’t think it is a matter of being condescending, as much as we can forget that we’ve been part of a different environment, a different culture.  At least, that is my best construction.  ( I am not saying there aren’t condescending academics out there.. just I don’t think many are truly that)

So how does one stay connected?  How do you continue to communicate, clearly and efficiently, without getting caught up in those 4 syllable words?  How do you remember to explain things in a manner everyone can understand, without insulting people’s knowledge base?  (side note:  the amount of knowledge one can accumulate has nothing to do with their wisdom or intelligence – for example – guys who are great at trivia and computers who cannot tie their shoes or understand how to use tools like hammers, screwdrivers etc)

I think the key is seen in the two quotes above.  First the obvious lesson in scripture.  Without the love of God in your life, it is all worthless.  Unless driven by God’s love for mankind, the knowledge and learning we have been given will simply echo endlessly without people to listen.

I think that is the same thing Pope Benedict is working through in the quote about Pentecost, that there is something more than just the knowledge, the data, even theological data.  Something supernatural that occurs, that we may struggle with, that we need to have.  It is that touching the hem of Christ Jesus.

Escriva is blunter, chastising those of us who in danger of becoming rude with our knowledge. Those whose are puffed up by it.  Or those who simply do not have the wisdom to understand that others are smarter, more spiritual, more faithful, even when they can’t comprehend certain subsets of vocabulary that we find common. In our use

The answer comes back to the person of Christ, to realize His love for all of us, for us to emulate His charachter, His humility, his coming alongside everyone.  To touch His robe, know His healing, and let His Spirit transform us into people who love others, renouncing our own “rights” and that which “benefits” us.

It’s a challenge for all of us, not just the academic, not just the theologian.  To realize that we dwell in the glory of God, and that God can use all things, including education, for good for those that love Him, for those He calls with a purpose, His purpose, that is the key.

So let us keep encouraging each other, encouraging each other to be humble, to follow Christ, to use our gifts and ability in a way that is loving and caring…. AMEN.

(1)  Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (pp. 153–154). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

(2)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 889-891). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on May 8, 2015, in Devotions, The Way and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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