Hello everyone. Rob here.
Some have called the age we live in, ‘The Information Age.’ Let’s be honest. It’s actually ‘The Information Overload Age.’ Wisdom used to be gained through the lived experience of elders who then passed it on to the next generation, simply by living in close proximity to them. Apprenticeship was a way of life. There were also initiation rites and rituals to signify the movement from childhood to adulthood, and the responsibilities that lay with that. This is a very different age, especially in the West. We have outsourced learning. Not just to teachers and tutors, but You Tube, Google and Siri. Adolescence is now a state that seems to last until the mid-twenties. In this age, the most counter-cultural thing we can do, I believe, is to become an intentional apprentice to Jesus Christ, and assume our role as sons and daughters in the Father’s estate.
Modern education uses the phrase, ‘seeking to create life-long learners.’ That’s a wonderful posture for the apprentice of Christ to adopt. Of course, it’s not learning to gain more information as such, but in how to live purposefully, live faithfully and live lovingly. But how do we learn and who do we learn from? With the right mindset and posture, we can learn from anyone, but it starts with a humble desire to learn. This leads to asking questions of God, and then following his lead as he uses various people and means to teach us. It’s remembering that one of the names used for Jesus was ‘Teacher’ or ‘Rabbi.’ He’s the one whom we follow in order to learn. Like Mary we also sit at his feet, taking our place as student.
Intentionality is the key. I’m also thinking of two other old-fashioned words – determination and discipline. These attitudes also need to be combined with humble surrender, lest we think that we’re teaching ourselves. Humility also reminds us that we”re in constant need of learning.
So, don’t just read your bible hoping for an encouraging word. Study it. Find out about the background, the history and the context. Try to put yourself in the listener’s shoes. Don’t trust people who give you easy answers that just happen to coincide with their worldview. Ask ‘why’ a lot. Keep asking the Spirit, ‘what do you want me to learn here?’
Read widely about all sorts of things. Let yourself wonder and again, ask ‘why’ a lot. Watch good documentaries. Read in-depth articles. Go beyond the headline. Travel. Ask a lot of questions, especially when you meet interesting people. Get curious.
However, lifelong learning needs to be built on a firm foundation otherwise we don’t have the capacity to carry it all. The foundation is this: God is good, you are loved and in Christ you have life. As we learn we are held in the Father’s arms. We learn in order to live well in and for his kingdom. We learn just how big, how wonderful and how gracious he really is. If we ask God to teach us that, it will help our hearts be open enough to really see.
When I look back on my life of learning I see that it’s when I’m after more of God himself, not mere knowledge about him, that I grow and learn. When my learning is based on a life of worship then my heart is ready for whatever God wants to teach me.
May Christ be your teacher. May you learn by resting in the Father’s love and may the Spirit of the Living God lead you.
Grace and peace.