A Gospel Centered Perspective on Academics. Part 1

In a few weeks’ time, the schools in the country will be going through their National drilling for end of an era exam. An era because for most students, that is a part of life they wish never haunts them again- I know there are others who do not mind school! Nevertheless, for the general populous, School for them is a pain they wish a miraculous work could eliminate. Young teenagers getting all scared and stressed and some even depressed because their parents are expecting them to ace it all the way. Forget about the question of strengths and extra effort realities of the human life. Most teachers and parents will not listen to any other thing than that a student must attain a certain grade and the School’s mean score is ever on upward scale. Over the years, we have seen an amazing shift in the Academic realms that has made our country become a haven of liars- academic liars- who thrive in false results, cheating in exams, plagiarism, piracy, bootlegging for the sake of popularity and prosperity! Our parents have moved from honest propagators of hard work and secretly or in collaboration, have shown this generation that academics, good grades and certificates are the way of prosperity. It does not matter how one gets there- just get there by hook or crook! Is it worth all this emotional and psychological pandemonium?

Is there a connection between Academics and the Gospel? Is there a real link between Chemistry or biotechnology, Mathematics or Architecture, Biology or Medicine and the Christian life? In fact, what is the connection between Academics and the so-called ‘good life’? Is it possible to weigh these two and find a balance? How does one balance schoolwork and the walk of faith?

Are you genuinely eligible for the course you are going to do in Campus next week? Are you eligible for what you are studying now? Are you worth the grade you brought with you back home after end term? Some statements I have come across that may sound well-meaning but only for a time and then, all of them, with the meaning they carry, must find a dead end where their sound shall be heard no more are:

  • Education is the key to a complete and perfect life.

  • Education is the key to prosperity and success in life.

  • Education is the key to opportunities in life.

  • Education is the foundation for your future.

  • Education is life.

DISCLAIMER

My greatest desire is not to dismiss academics but raise a case for a God glorifying view of academics, which I find connected directly to something higher than academics- the Gospel. I seek much more to lift higher the Gospel banner than the academic banner because, of the two, one of them surely finds its truest meaning in the shadow of the other! Education is critical; The Gospel is critically foundational! That is the thrust of my exhortation- The Gospel and not Education brings immortality, joy, meaning, purpose, satisfaction, fulfillment and rest to the mortals. It is the cause and effect. It is the impetus and not the outcome; the heart and not the body; everything depends on the Gospel and that is why it should be our utmost desire!

The Pivotal Factor

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him… that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Colossians 1:15-18). As the sun at the centre of the solar system sustains the whole universe with the power of its constant radiance, so does Christ sustain all things by the power of his might. Should the sun lose its place even for an inch or stop to be as radiant as it has constantly been, then the whole world will go into crazy confusion and destruction. That is the same thing; when Christ ceases to be at the centre of all our existence then everything will lose its balance and will go into reckless confusion. Things that do not matter take centre stage when the thing that should be at the centre stage moves.

Paul reminds us that it is by him that all things were created. He was there before anything existed and all things- including education- exist because he created them. All things celestial or earthly exist through him and for him. FOR HIM. Not for man and his selfishness but for him. At the end of it all, who takes the cookies back? God does. Why? Because they are his cookies! In fact, he did not just create them for himself but in him, all things are stable; hold together; find their meaning. (Hebrews 1:3). Why does he do that? Why does Jesus ensure that no human is key in the work that he has done since creation? Why does Jesus ensure that we know that, in as far as the beginning, the continuing and the consummation of all things, man has no critical feature in it? Paul says it is so that in everything he might have the supremacy. That is, he is the one who has complete rule and ownership. Supreme! 1Corinthians 8:5-6 reminds us, “…yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

The foundational problem is not that people are idolizing education, grades, wealth, health, and all. The real problem is that we have many in the Church who are not Disciples but mere professors; Christian bubblers who have too much noise with little or no transformation; churched people who are unreached in regards to this truth of the glorious Gospel- that Christ either rules all or none at all. The problem is not cheating in exams and parents rejoicing in fake ‘success’ in their children, while they know very well they helped cheat for them. The problem is not that genuine sharp students are getting great grades. The problem is that the centre moved and even the genuine student who has toiled for the grades or the genuine worker, who has toiled for the salary or promotion, will genuinely be in confusion and destruction if the Supreme Christ moves from his pivotal position in their lives.

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