Friday, April 12, 2013

Knowledge and Wisdom

The Great Commission is a hallmark of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV).  Too often, we have focused on the “baptizing” part and not on the “make disciples” and “teaching them” parts.  In Ephesians, Paul encourages the church when he wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 ESV).  “Instruction” is a key component of the charge to parents in raising children.  One of the founders of the Disciples of Christ, Alexander Campbell, directed the parents in many of his sermons to not rely on the church to train children, but to make instruction a regular part of family time in order to establish the Christian faith in the family first. 

In the second and third century of the church, before Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, men like Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), one of the bishops of Rome, and Origin (185-254), headmaster of the catechetical school in Alexandria, encouraged parents and the church to teach children not only the Scriptures but science, philosophy, music, literature and history.  Origin reminded his students that the gold the Hebrews brought with them after the bondage in Egypt (Exodus 12:35) was used to make the holy vessels for the worship of God (Exodus 36).  Likewise, Origin continued, we should use the treasures of philosophy and literature to build the sacred faith of Christianity.

In our modern society, almost every aspect of human experience has become an industry.  Everything from agriculture to technology is influenced, and in most cases, driven by economics.  To sustain this machine, we have, over time, become cogs in a machine that demands specific knowledge.  I remember as a child in school, my classmates would challenge our teachers to explain to us how what they were teaching us would help us “in the real world.”

At a recent gathering of the World Affairs Council in Dallas, Texas, former diplomat Henry Kissinger was the featured speaker.  He observed that before technology, we had to remember important facts, which required we understand them.  Now we can access facts any time we wish, so that we no longer need to remember them, and thus do not understand them. As a result, we have more information than ever, but less wisdom.

“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 15:33 ESV).  Paul, writing to the Church at Corinth, reminds us that the true wisdom of God is found in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:24).  Our Christian educators at First Christian Church are passionate about teaching our children not only knowledge but wisdom.  We pray that we are helping you, as parents, grandparents and caregivers, fulfill your call to teach the fullness of human experience. Celebrate your child’s mastery of skills they will use in the great economic engine of human existence, but also fill your home with conversations about humanity and divinity.  Our vision for the generation that follows us is to be both knowledgeable and wise.

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