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WHY PERFECTION ISN'T ENOUGH (published in The Tribune 9/14/13)

posted Dec 9, 2013, 9:03 AM by Fccea Webmaster

A recent college graduate was having trouble finding a job, so he went to work in his dad’s factory for a while. One day Dad found him napping in the supply closet and ordered him to go sweep the sidewalk. “But Dad,” the young man protested, “I’m a college graduate.” Dad replied, “Oh, I forgot about that. Don’t worry. I’ll come out and show you how.”

The truth is, our culture generally values education highly. Educator Horace Mann said, “A human being is not attaining his full heights until he is educated.” Nelson Mandela avers, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

I am not one to knock education, having taken two masters degrees myself. But I wonder if the above quotes aren’t a bit optimistic.

God’s perspective is demonstrated at both ends of His revelation to mankind in the Bible. In the early chapters of Genesis, we find the first man and woman placed in a perfect environment, sufficiently knowledgeable to name and categorize the animals (and presumably the plants as well). The couple is surrounded by beauty, variety and plenty. Yet in the end, both fail the most simple moral test in a vain attempt to be more than they are – to be like God.

Then in Revelation 20, God represents that at the end of a future millennium (1,000 years) of perfection on earth, in a kingdom ruled by Jesus Christ himself, when the tempter is given free reign once again, he is able to mount a substantial rebellion against God Himself consisting of people who have benefited from this perfect environment (Rev 20:7-9).

What’s the point? God is illustrating, at both ends of history that man’s greatest problem does not stem from the imperfections of his environment or a lack of education. Those are significant factors and deserve our keen attention. But in the end, even a perfect environment will not curb our selfish bent to self-destruction.

Mankind’s greatest problem is a heart that naturally rebels against his Creator. We don’t desire to worship God – we desire to be God, and therein lies the root of every conceivable human problem – the desire to stand in place of God and above others.

God offers the only solution to that problem through the forgiveness of our brokenness based on the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Our condition would be hopeless but for His intervention: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6). It is by turning to Him in faith that this remedy is applied to our own heart.

So, as we send our children and grandchildren back to school, the Bible urges, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: And with all your getting, get understanding” (Prov 4:7). Two verses earlier, God defines wisdom and understanding as “the words of my mouth” – the Scripture.

It’s no surprise that having taken the time to author the  Scripture that is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [or woman or boy or girl] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Tim 3:16-17), He would put a high premium on our paying attention to it.

Bertrand Russell, one of the foremost philosophers of the 20th century maintained, “Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.” That need not be the case for those who include in their quest for knowledge and understanding the pursuit of the wisdom a gracious God has provided in His Word.

Dave McNeff is pastor of the First Congregational Church of Eaton