miercuri, 3 februarie 2016

THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION:

CONSUMER DRIVEN SECULARIZED SOCIETY, 
ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY
 
dedicated to Bill, Jim and Allan who are always an inspiration

The following was triggered by three things: comments over a video posted on Facebook, things that inspired me on couple of Sunday sermons, and a conversation I had with some friends one evening...

I have recently seen a video with people waving crosses in the faces of a Muslim community somewhere in Luton, shouting "this is a Christian country". It is obvious to me that there is a significant threat as one muslim individual clearly stated that the UK is being taken over. 

On the other hand, as a Christian I can see that only with the waving crosses protesters were completely unarmed. And when I say unarmed I do not mean armed with guns and tanks but armed with knowledge and valid information to share. When you go at war you need to be prepared. Apart from the weaponry you also need to know your enemy. It is common sense.

This conflict however is different. It is a spiritual war. It is a battle of the cultures. And if you enter this particular war zone without being spiritually equipped and you don't know who you are dealing with, your own defeat is almost a sure thing.

As a Christian I also see here a massive opportunity to turn the tide. First of all it is an opportunity to bring the good news of the gospel to the public attention after being the message has so much been diluted by the mass-media and the social media. Now that we see how a less developed culture is gaining over the western world it should be easier to get people's attention on this matter.

For if we don't know who Christ is we can not support the idea that we are Christians, or that we are a Christian country. I know that for a fact as this happened all in Romania, my native country. The secularization of the society, is clearly showing it's weaknesses. Clearly there must be a link between the fact that Britain was an Empire before and became a country over the last 60 years of secularization. 

Note that in history all the nations that have lost their religion have DISAPPEARED. If anyone cares to argue with me on that please check that one yourself. It is actually not that difficult to understand why. National identity has a few pillars and one of them is religion. If you want to swap religion for anything else the only answer the mankind will ever produce is DICTATORSHIP as an alternative.

And we can extend that thought as it is safe to state that all the dictatorships and genocide since the XIX-th century was caused by the most deceiving ideology ever conceived by man: socialism. Why deceiving? Because it goes against the human nature. It goes against everything Jesus has proclaimed although it seems that it is what Jesus wanted. It puts humanity in chains using words like freedom, equality, etc. Truth is that socialism works against the individual freedom while Christ is the way to personal freedom!

Secondly there is an opportunity to evangelize the muslim world. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. Apostle Paul was walking one day in a town full of idolatry. Statues of different Gods were everywhere. Then something caught his attention. It was a statue dedicated to an unknown God. He immediately seized that opportunity. Every speech has the introducing part. In professional management when I was a sales trainer I would call that "breaking the ice". 

What did Paul do? We find that in the book of Acts chapter 17 verses 22 and 23. It is amazing actually how he managed to introduce Jesus in the days when the Greeks were still the who's who in philosophy, mathematics, etc. Here is what he said:

Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you"

Notice that the Athenians were "very religious". Greece eventually became one of the most prominent Christian nations of all times. And it has all started wioth a what was actually an idol. And one man turned the tide! A man of God!

Just like Paul we can seize an opportunity. But we need information on the subject. We need to know who are we addressing to, what the objections would be and how to prevent them surfacing or to answer them. And of course, we need more than waving a cross in the face of those who we are addressing. We need to know what the Bible has to say. We need to know what Jesus has to say. we need to know what God has to say. And we need to know how to break the ice. 

So how to do that? Well... How many of you are aware of the fact the paul, the apostle of the nations met Jesus while persecuting the Christians, on the road to Damascus (Syria today)? How many of you know that Mohammed was born in an area were Christianity was flourishing and that he has actually a very well documented life? And how many of you know that

"Islamic tradition states that when Muhammad was either nine or twelve while accompanying the Meccans' caravan to Syria, he met a Christian monk or hermit named Bahira who is said to have foreseen Muhammad's career as a prophet of God.
(Source: Wikipedia)

If you are asking me, that is a good ground to start a debate. Especially if you have studied the word of God and read the Coran because you will realise that the Coran is a falsified Bible. It appeared 600 years after Christ, and reduced Christ to a simple prophet whilst putting Mohammed on higher pedestal than Jesus!!!

Warned means prepared. Be aware of the fact that the muslim believer is educated from an early age not to listen to anything you would have to say. When talking to one you must be gentle but firm. Rely on facts. Those people need to know that they are being deceived and indoctrinated with a falsified Bible. It is not easy to learn that everything you believe in it is a lie and it is even harder to accept. So one must be very careful and patient when enters this debate. 

However, when we talking about this matter we need to understand that we have to train ourselves first. We need to study. Complete our education. I for one do believe that education is important. It gives you a strong set of values. It was education that helped Paul the apostle to bring the word of Gospel to the gentiles, although he humbled himself with those words:

"For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."
(1 Corinthians 15:9)

Paul was humble although highly educated. That is why God chose Him to take the Gospel to the nations. Education is important. It gives you a higher set of values. Brings higher standards in our lives. Helps us identify and process faster. Make no mistake: education is to be valued. Today, the political correctness has induced the false idea that ignorance is as good as knowledge. That is absolutely not true, incorrect and dangerous.

It is actually the knowledge that gives us a better understanding of things. Even when we are talking about being a Christian one can not become a Christian without KNOWING who is Jesus before believing in order to be born again from the Spirit. we can't just wave crosses around shouting that we are Christians. We need to know what we are talking about. We need to know who jesus is, what he has done for us, and how God's plan worked through Him for us. In this making decision process KNOWLEDGE is of outmost importance.

Apostle Paul had a refined education. And true, part of his training he had to give up. He had to admit that the some of the things he believed in were not quite as he thought they were. It is actually similar to bringing the Gospel to the Greeks or to a muslim believer. Paul had to give up some things. But he never gave up others. Like the Greek language for instance. Like using his Roman citizenship for the work of God. He was flexible. He was creating opportunities. And all his knowledge was used by the Holy Spirit to fulfil God's plan of spreading the Gospel. And he was fearless. It is exactly how we have to be if we want to do our part.

Yes. Education is very important. Even more so when it comes to being a Christian. Actually Jesus was a teacher. He was the ultimate teacher! When he walked on Earth God himself was teaching us. That is why His words endured the centuries. And that is why He is the leader of those who believe in Him. He is the HEAD OF THE CHURCH.

We can trust Him simply because He gave up His life for us, even more, He pleaded our case in front of the Heavenly Father: 
"Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."And they divided His garments and cast lots."
(Luke 23:34)
Jesus was fulfilling a plan. He knew exactly what he was doing and what the outcome of all his actions will be. And that is what we also need to do in order to be successful in bringing the gospel to the muslim believers. And of course we must let God do His work through us. fear is therefore not an option. Fear is of the devil.

Jesus is the head of the church. He was perfect in every way. He is still the center of his church today. he is the leader of the Church. He is to be trusted at all times. I don't think anyone would want leaders that do not know what they are doing. It is of outmost importance who leads. You can't have a doctor managing a factory. It would not be impossible but it would definitely be difficult to get results. He would have to lean on the counsel of a board of engineers and economists.

But Jesus can turn all of that that around. He brought a fisherman (Peter) on the same level with a highly educated man (Paul). One can only imagine the social difference between those two thousand years ago. From this point of view I would say that following Christ outranks all the secular knowledge. The example of Peter and Paul makes this really simple to understand.

A leader must always be well equipped for the leadership. Not only with scientific, cold facts but also must be anchored in the word of the Lord that brings along the highest set of standards. Not only moral standards. See, Paul was the best in bringing the word to the gentiles, while Peter was better at bringing the word to his nation. Although they were equipped with the same set of values, were both armed with the Holy Spirit and faith as foundation, they worked for the same goal in different ways and areas because their skills were different. God put each one of them in the right place after having them properly educated, one by Christ Himself, the other after meeting Christ on the road to Damascus (Syria today).

Somebody once told me that GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF THE BEST. I will never forget these words. So few words state such a powerful truth. So never give in for less. People will try to make you adopt lower standards sometimes. Will try to push you into things that are in conflict with your standards. Never give up the standards even if that means that you will get emotionally hurt in the process.

Education is important. Training your skills is important. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21 it is actually written:

"Test all things; hold fast what is good."

We don't have the same set of skills but that is just because so we could help each other. Under no circumstances are we to disregard the skills and training of the others just because we have our own ideas about things we know nothing or very little about. But those skills won't help us much if we don't have a good foundation. All the knowledge we have would be like a house built on sand.

As a Christian I deeply believe that only the scientific knowledge is not enough. The faith in Christ is there not only to complete our education but it is the one that gives a meaning to all the secular knowledge and sets the right system of reference. It will boost the value of everything we know about science.

Following the example of Paul, who never used his apostolic authority over Philemon, under no circumstances are we to FORCE anyone into anything that they feel it is not right according to their standards and set of values at a particular moment. Let them make the decision voluntarily. That is what a real leader does. Jesus never imposed anything on anyone.

In such moments we need to compromise our personal plans and needs. We need to understand that those in front us are just not ready for a big leap so we need to re-evaluate the situation and create new opportunities if possible. That is the moment to be CREATIVE. Even the Bible explicitly tell us so, and we have lots of examples of this in the book of ACTS. We are all work in progress. And we all have different levels of knowledge even if we live the same number of years, we attend the same schools, we study the Scriptures and follow Christ.

Therefore we are at different stages or educational levels. That is why some of us are better at one job and others are better than us in doing something else. And it is reasonable to assume that we have different levels of understanding on a subject at a particular moment in time. Keeping the standards set by Christ as a foundation to all of this it just makes everything easier to be glued together although it might not look like it to the consumer driven society of today.

We live in a secularized world. And we see people that are going through the secular process of education. We have highly trained and skilled people. Much more than ever before. And most would say that attending a University, getting a master degree is what a leader needs. So how come that we have leaders that are unable to do the proper job? My opinion is that the moral values for the society have been lowered.

Without the values and moral standards set by Christ, no secular training would bring real education. It would be just incomplete knowledge.

I have a good example at hand: all of us who have been brought up behind the iron curtain know what that type of conduct brings along: system failure. The Socialist Republic of Romania for instance had an atheist (like all the socialists) shoemaker leading the country for almost thirty years as a dictator. His name was Ceausescu.

What happened in those days is history for many, but to me it is still a reality and there are many lessons to be learned from what happened back then.

I find this to be true: only Christ was perfect. And we are called to be saints. Our God is a God of the second chances. He gave His only son to give us that second chance. That is why I don't think we need to stretch that second chance to a third, and fourth one.

When Paul wrote to the saints of the churches, while greeting the leaders and all of those who lead a life in Christ, so they could help the others around them, regardless if they were members of the church or not, he himself was aware of his personal conflict between the flesh and the spirit.

Without a solid foundation all the things that we know are absolutely useless. we will fail if and when using our own strength. We will fail miserably as humans without being in contact with God. Intelligence without proper education means nothing. We have all heard about extremely intelligent criminals. So we need the proper education. Badly.

That is why are responsible for the education of the generations to come. That is why we need to enable them to make the right choices when the time comes. we need to give them all the information without prejudice. we need to tell them about jesus too. 
I don't have children yet but I see the efforts my sisters are making in doing that for my nephew and nieces. We are responsible for our children. Give them the best possible education. Give them a better life not in material but a healthy spiritual life. We need to make the effort so they could have a better chance of understanding everything. And talking about God is definitely a must if anyone wants to have a solid base for the rest of knowledge.

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