For I believe only a person who has nothing to lose can be free in the hope that Christ has given us.
Amen. Consider it all loss to gain Christ the Lord. You are fighting the good fight. I will be praying for you as you return to school.
Grace and Peace
| 2007/8/21 15:54||Profile|
What did it mean for Paul to lose [i]all things[/i] to gain Christ? All the persecutions he suffered, preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus to every creature, Paul was a chosen vessel, separated unto the Gospel. Right now I am in the process of being separated... unto the Gospel, I believe. I made the decision to quit those classes I am supposed to take and thus leave school. My heart is breaking though: for I am leaving all those souls here--so many people I know, most of whom don't know the Lord--and although it will be easier for me when I am not unequally yoked and/or required to deny my Lord in classes in order to move on, what is going to happen to them? Just in the past couple of days, I had the chance to run into two guys that were seeking the Lord's will for their lives--it was His will that led me to them--one of them wants to start meeting with me so I can "help him with his spiritual journey." So I ask, What does it mean to lose all things? To be unable to love and disciple those I've been entrusted? I've never been in a such place before. I kinda like returning to Egypt, to all the "friends" at school; I love pleasing people so much! The idea of letting someone down, or just leaving everything here "for the Gospel's sake"--leaving this quest for human wisdom and status--and having no clear direction but a vague premonition of an imminent time of testing in the wilderness--it makes a compromised and well-meant stay in my college more appealing. Perhaps this is what I must part with: even my best soulish intentions... I see an Egypt where I am and a Canaan I've been called to. May the Lord show me the incomparable greatness of the latter.
| 2007/8/23 13:02|
The questions here is: how far can we go without going against the counsel of our conscience? If am I asked to familiarize myself with the law of the state I live in or to learn the process by how say a woody plant grows, it may be fine. But when I am asked to say that Christ is not the Son of God and my Lord, or act/talk/think/write as if He isn't, just to get by, then things get quite different. More so, if the new man cannot live out his life without putting it under a bushel, taking into consideration first the opinions and purposes of men, for his own good or benefit, then how can he walk in "the newness of life" at all? Why did Christians through the ages--even today--suffer that much persecution for refusing to conform to the ways of this world? I think this was the line of thought in which I was going.
How many times in our walk have we had to keep quiet or say what we don't think so we don't lose our status? How many times have we had to act like "mere men" to fit in a place which opposes our God so we don't suffer persecution? I know I've done this thousands of times. Given in to pressure from parents, friends, teachers, etc., under the banner of "seeking safety in the counsel of many." Of course, this doesn't mean that we should try on purpose to offend people and say things that we know they will reject, so we can be "faithful witnesses." Only the Spirit of God can bear witness to the truth.
I have been wrestling much with the issue of keeping my faith in the educational context lately. The struggle's shaken the very depths of who I am. Alternating periods of "I can't do this any more, Lord, it's killing me" and "I am going to give it a try this time and do what they want me to do, their way, for the sake of my family, finances, my education." But I haven't been able to accommodate those two modes or persons at all. Usually everything end with many tears, repentance, and starting the very same fight, unarmed and unprepared, again and again.
I have attended school at secular universities. I earned both of my Baccalaureate degrees and my Masters Degree at secular universities. I am currently pursuing my PhD at another secular university. My wife and I met at a wonderful Christian organization (Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship) at our undergraduate University. She earned both her Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree at the same secular university. In all of these years of study, we have NEVER been asked to deny the Lord, to say that Christ is not the Son of God, to act/talk/think/write as if He isnt, etc
In fact, such a requirement is AGAINST THE LAW in the United States.
Yes, there are certain degrees and classes that harbor heavy anti-religious principles. Such classes like Biology, Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, etc
offer unbiblical perspectives on many issues. They are taught by professors. For instance, Biology students are taught about the theory of evolution. It is taught in a manner as to convey the theory as fact. Yet none of these students can legally be asked to compromise their religious beliefs. While they may be asked about the theories taught in class, this is no different from a person being asked to describe certain laws that we might not agree with (such as the legality of easy divorce, liquor, tobacco, capital punishment, etc
). When asked about the legal limit on my driving exam, I didnt fill in the blank with [i]All drunkards will burn in Hell[/i]! I simply answered the question from what I read in the Drivers Handbook. By answering questions about the subject on a test, an individual is not condoning a belief, but describing what is being taught about the issue. Most universities also allow the student to CHOOSE which science classes that they take, as well as the professors of each subject. Even if you must take a Biology class, you can still choose a professor who will be more open to the faith. In fact, there were several anti-evolution and Christian Biology professors at the undergraduate university that I attended.
You would be surprised to learn about the atmosphere at a University. Rather than a cesspool of hatred for Christianity, it is actually a cesspool of ambiguous, free thought. Individuals are rarely mocked for their faith. Instead of looking like a godless communist state, it is far more reminiscent of the Athens where Paul preached. Yes, we (as believers) realize that this can be a much more dangerous place since Christianity can become dismissed as just another meaningless religion. However, we often fail to remember that we serve the only true, living God. His Word will not return void. Are we so weak in our faith that we fear the teachings of a man or woman called Professor? If so, then there is a far greater problem than the question of secular education.
The problem, I think, is that some people equate a secular education with compromising with the world. Yet no matter how spiritual and separated we might think that we are, we all are forced to have such interaction.
As believers, Christ did not come to take us OUT of this world. Instead, we remain grounded in Him while interacting amongst the rest of the world. We dont live like the rest of the world in a matter of sinful conduct. However, we still have to pay our taxes, work, provide for our families, and perform other secular tasks. But these arent really secular in nature, are they? When God has instructed us to provide for our house (I Timothy 5:8), give unto Caesar (Matthew 22:21), then we can safely assume that we should do our best in this endeavor. One tool to help us accomplish this is to educate ourselves in a trade or to earn a degree. The degree doesnt necessarily equate to knowledge. There are a great many ignorant and unintelligent individuals who have earned degrees (whether by cheating or simply getting by). Yet statistics have proven that an individual with a college degree will most likely earn a much larger salary and benefits things that he can use for his family and the work of the Lord.
I have never feared losing my faith. I know the certainty of the One in whom I trust. I know who I am in the Lord. I know the exact moment, place and time in which I surrendered my life to the Lord (as a young teen). I went from agnostic to firm believer in a matter of moments. Since then, I have never questioned the validity of the Word of God or my faith. I have taken more science classes than I know what to do with and none of these weakened my faith. Never was I asked to compromise my love or belief in Christ. In fact, I have actually had the opportunity to speak with professors about my belief in, and love for, the Lord. Even as a college freshman, I was able to speak with an extremely liberal, unbelieving professor about the Lord. I even purchased a copy of the Keith Green biography, [i]No Compromise[/i]. God provided me a great deal of favor in this professors eyes. He constantly commented about how intelligent I was. As a result, he introduced me to Congressmen, Senators, and Governors. During these meetings, I never once compromised my faith.
Sadly, there is a misconception about believers in the academic world. Many academics and scholars tend to look at believers as if they were unintelligent, unmotivated, unreasonable radicals with doctrinal tunnel vision. And you know what? There are many people within the church who willfully fit that description. They almost pride themselves on their lack of education. They even feel that they are reminiscent of the disciples. Yet they forget that each of the early disciples had a trade in which they were learned BEFORE (and on some occasions, AFTER) they were called. Peter, James and John were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector (probably pretty good at math). Luke was a physician. Paul was a Pharisee and a tentmaker. Even Jesus was reputed to be a carpenter. While Paul counted all things as loss (Philippians 3) he didnt bury his talents (Matthew 25). Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, James and Jude used their knowledge of reading and writing (a very rare commodity in that day) to write the Word of God. Paul even used his knowledge of the Roman legal system to take the Gospel unto Caesar
Let me reiterate: If a professor at any college (religious or secular) attempts to change your faith DONT. No one can force you to learn (ask any pastor). No one can force you to compromise. And no one can destroy your faith. If you fear losing your faith because of a professor then speak with the Professor. If you still feel uncomfortable, speak with the Department Chair, Dean or School Administration. You would be surprised by how fast they will rush to your aid! As a freshman, I was asked to write an argument paper in support or gay marriage. I spoke with the professor about my desire to change topic, and she let me change the topic AGAINST gay marriage from a position of faith. I earned an A on the paper and in the class. Even after exhausting all avenues (which you probably would NEVER have to do), you can still drop that particular class. If you are a weaker believer, then you can change your major. Regardless, no one has the authority to call into question the value of a secular education. While it may not be your cup of tea or personal conviction, please dont spit on it in the name of the Lord.
There is a strong mentality for some to attend a Christian University. If that is their desire, then go for it. While I have a moderate conviction against the modern career minister (individuals who educate themselves solely in an effort to become salary ministers), I have nothing against Bible Schools or Christian liberal arts schools. They are expensive. They sometimes receive a little less financial aid than state or public colleges and universities. However, I have a feeling that youll find just as much godlessness on a Christian campus as on a secular campus. What makes matters worse is that the hypocrisy or sinfulness often seems far more evident on the Christian campus.
I apologize for the lengthiness of this post. I began writing it a couple of days ago, but didnt want to post it in haste. I simply want to make others aware of the common misconceptions about secular colleges and universities. It is indeed possible for believers to attend and even thrive in such an educational environment. While I do not pride myself on my education (and consider it dung in comparison with my relationship with Christ), I am glad that the Lord provided me the opportunity to further my education in the secular environment. I believe that the Light of Christ shined ever so brightly in a friendly but dark place.
| 2007/8/23 16:04||Profile|