Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Secret of Heaven and Earth

Whenever we talk about education, we will always deal with secrets. As parents to their children, as teachers to their students, as mentors to their disciples, we unfold the mystery that otherwise remains hidden from the learners. The business of education is very serious. Those holding the position as teachers or those functioning as teachers are in the business of passing on the secret of the universe to the next generation. If there are no teachers, the secret might be lost, and people will need to reinvent the wheel. Education is too serious to be neglected. Handing down the secret of the universe to the next generation is a huge deal. In Christian education, we don’t just pass on the secret of the universe to the next generation, but also the secret of heaven. That makes the business of Christian education very honorable indeed.

The secret of heaven and earth is revealed by God. God opens up the secret of the universe through the so called general revelation, and the secret of heaven through his special revelation. Interestingly, the secret of heaven and earth is only revealed to humans and none to other creatures. This privilege has something to do with our status as the crown of creation, for we are created in God’s image and likeness. Since the beginning humans are created to have the capacity to understand the revealed secret of heaven and earth. Through the means of education, humans pass on their knowledge of the secret to their descendents, and it has been like that forever. Because of the drive to know the secret that research is considered extremely important in the realm of education. Once the secret is known, it will be handed down to the next generation by way of education.

In light of our fallenness, we don’t always perceive the truth as it should be. Our knowledge is marred by sin. Thus the thirst for the true knowledge remains. Humans try to uncover secret after secret since the beginning of time. But it is up to God whether he will open it up to humans. Thus apart from God nobody can truly know. Consequently, what we think as the unfolded secret of heaven and earth might not be the truth. Yet we pass it on to our children and impose upon them such knowledge that possibly is not true. Humans are aware of the flaw and thus strive to guard the leak of the false knowledge to be passed on to the next generation. This makes the business of education even harder, because now it is not merely passing on the secret but also preventing the flood of false knowledge to the next generation.

Determining which one is false and which one is true obviously is not as easy as it sounds. Humans need standard to measure the newly uncovered secret whether it belongs to the true knowledge fort or not. As elaborated in the previous discussion about the business of Christian education, we have known that the standard of truth is Christ himself, for he is the truth. Therefore it is imperative for humans to seriously consider bringing Christ in the equation whenever we engage in an endeavor to search true knowledge. Not many would readily agree to what I’m proposing here, however I cannot and will not deny my Lord just because He is not found to be attractive by many scholars.

The passing on of the secret of heaven and earth is commanded by God in the Bible (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Matthew 28:18-20). The owner of the secret is God himself. Therefore, as an educator myself, I tremble before the Lord every time I present the secret of heaven and earth to whoever God entrusts to me as my disciples, whether in my capacity as a teacher or in my teaching function. Passing on the secret to the next generation is both an honoring and humbling experience. I know that the secret is God’s and thus I cannot present it like it belongs to me. Secondly, I cannot claim what is not true as true, for then I would represent his truth falsely.

For all who consider themselves educators, I urge you to carefully examine yourselves before presenting and passing on the secret of heaven and earth to your disciples. Teachers have in them a certain kind of power and authority and attributes that is endowed from heaven alone. When teachers speak, they speak with a certain kind of charisma that naturally should captivate the students. In this fallen world, such power can be abused and might result in misdirection. The business of Christian education is very serious that God said through James: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1), or we might also want to take a look at what he said elsewhere “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Should we not tremble when we get involved in the education enterprise? Should we not tremble when we hand down the secret of heaven and earth to the next generation?

* The Business of Christian Education II

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