I spent more than two decades worth of Septembers going “back to school”. Reminiscing about elementary, secondary, and university days are as natural to me as breathing when the calendar turns and we are greeted with crisp morning air. Although school offers many opportunities for development, such as social or recreational, it is most closely identified with learning. Every year presents a selection of course material to learn. Thus, we had an end in sight: learn enough stuff by the end of the year to prove yourself with a passing test grade. At the very end you could accumulate enough proof of learning to get rewarded with a fancy piece of paper; a piece of paper many see as the entrance requirement to a happy, prosperous life.
What does biblical learning look like? For one, it is never presented as the mere knowledge of facts, but instead the knowing of the Lord. In fact Paul counted all things that may be obtained, experienced, or purchased in life as insignificant next to knowing the Lord: “Indeed, I count everything as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Phil 3:8a)” For Paul, the end goal of being “like him (Jesus)” and with him for eternity, starts with knowing him (Phil 3:10). Paul’s understanding of biblical learning extends and contextualizes for Christians the basic biblical understanding of learning. The natural understanding of learning typically resembles that of the ancient Greeks who greatly valued wisdom, but saw it as a human exercise to reach an end goal – including understanding God. The bible, however, speaks of God as not merely the goal (or end) of wisdom, but the beginning and source of all wisdom.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (Proverbs 9:10)”
It is quite possible your memories of school and learning are not so fond. The wonderful thing about God’s learning plan is that it is not a test of performance, but a disposition of your heart. Your learning of God’s wisdom for life begins with fearing him, not as we would fear an enemy, but as we would cherish, honour, and revere our awesome Creator. If you wish to pass the ‘wisdom test’ in life, know Christ. Paul said it best to the Corinthians:
“God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:28-31)”