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The Power of Education, or “Math or Whatever You’re Good At” #firstworldproblems

10/28/2011

There’s no denying that there’s power in education. In one regard, human empowerment and capability is developed (or unlocked, if you see it that way). On a more macro level, social movements, political initiatives, humanitarian aid programs, and other significant headliner events have initiated positive change throughout history. Education has become a force to be reckoned with in the first world.

Education, however, also holds a power of a different kind- a kind that is often not considered or accounted for as often as it should be:

It determines people’s lives.

As cliche, unimportant, and untrusting of God’s sovereignty as it might sound, the power of higher education as we know it today is that it often determines the entire direction of people’s lives.

One distinct aspect with which I am all too familiar is what I will call the “math factor.” The math factor (extremely weak pun intended) is the fact that many people’s majors in American universities is determined by whether or not they do well in math classes. Obviously there are exceptions to this.

But by the reality of the education system, this ends up being the case. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, actually. Objectively speaking, we need engineers and doctors and statisticians. And mathematicians.

But I digress. The point is that, in this case, math becomes a major determining factor (and the sole one in some cases) in the direction of people’s lives-without a second thought to it.

Broadly speaking, the “math factor” can be extended to be a “math or whatever you’re good at” factor. So goes the power of education. So goes life, without a second thought to it.

So obviously the point is not that we need educational reform. Or that we all need to drop out of school. Or that we all need to study the humanities.

Instead, we need to think twice (or ten times if that’s what it takes) about our life stewardship of the Gospel. If our existence on this earth finds its fulfillment of purpose in better understanding human health, technology, humanitarian aid, or economics, then Christ’s words in Matthew 16 might sting:

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

“Thinking twice,” then, is a loaded phrase. How often do we supposedly reconsider things when our minds are already made up and resistant to change? Instead, “thinking twice” involves examination of sin, repentance, prayer, input from others, and an overall faithful seeking of God’s will. If we’re faithful to seek His will and not our own, His kingdom becomes priority instead of our own personal kingdom.

Woe to us as Christ-followers if even curing cancer or providing access to clean water trump the Gospel as a life-direction determinant! And… all the more so if, nonchalantly, math or whatever we’re good at (or don’t fail at) determines our paths. May we seek to submit our wills to God in our lives just as Christ did both in the Garden and ultimately so as He laid down His life.

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