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Monday, March 2, 2009

No Christian Left Behind

The “No Child Left Behind” act is designed to ensure that all of our children receive a quality education. Whatever we may feel about its implementation, I believe we can all agree that the quality of the education given our children is of utmost importance. Every child should be in an environment where he or she can learn.

But despite the best programs, the best teachers, the best classrooms, we often find that for some children it just doesn’t work. There are many reasons why this may be true. One child may have an entirely different learning style from that of his teacher. Another may have dyslexia or some other learning disability that prevents her from learning at the speed of the other children. A third may have a lowered IQ that makes learning more difficult for him. But it may also be for the reason that the child sees no value in education and doesn’t want to learn. He has never seen the importance of education in his life. Until he decides there is value in education, he will likely never truly succeed in school. Unfortunately, the same is true with adults. Department of Education reports indicate that adult literacy and reading are declining. We are becoming less and less literate.

A recent article by a Christian author suggests that we should promote “No Christian Left Behind”. He states that we should all seek to be biblically, theologically and culturally literate. Josh Sowin, writing in John Piper’s blog “Desiring God” says much the same thing: “But we have a problem: our culture is becoming more and more alliterate. We have the ability to read but not the desire. Or maybe we have the desire but not the time. We make time to watch television and surf the Internet for the latest triviality, but we can't seem to make the time to sit down and read for an hour.” Sowin recommends that we become well versed in our knowledge of the Bible, in theology and in our understanding of the culture in which we live. It is only then that we will be able to impact our culture with God’s good news.

There are many passages in the Bible that speak to the value God places on knowledge. He desires that we intimately know Him. We are to diligently search for, cry out for, and seek to know God. Several passages suggest that we are to wrestle with getting to know God. The prophet Hosea warns that “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6a). We are chided in Hebrews 5 for not going beyond the elementary teachings. To faithfully serve Him requires that we use our minds along with our emotions. We must acquire a working knowledge of the Bible, learn the basic Christian doctrines, and understand how God’s good news intersects with the culture in which we live. It requires the same disciplined approach as does the discipline needed to learn math or a foreign language. It will not happen by osmosis.

Do we desire to know God and model our lives after him or do we model our Christian lives after the child who sees no value in education and doesn’t want to learn? How often are we merely satisfied with attending church on Sunday, but have no desire to learn more about God, his world and our lives? If God were giving us a literacy test regarding our knowledge of Him, would we flunk the exam? Would He classify us with those who have been left behind?

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