Monday, January 19, 2009

Learning in Wartime

This piece is actually a published sermon. It was given to students at Oxford during World War II, but it still has relevance today in our relatively peaceful nation. (I guess we are fighting two wars, but we are not being drafted and the violence seems far removed from our cozy little lives over here in America.)

The basic problem addressed in this sermon is whether the pursuit of knowledge should happen while others are out fighting for their country. Shouldn't a good citizen be doing whatever he or she can do to support their country and their troops? How can we students sit in a classroom while others are dying on the battlefield? 

It is a difficult question. I have asked myself, in one form or another, why I should spend a large fraction of my life in school while the "real world" awaits. Also, how can I rationalize spending time in school when I could be helping the poor or serving others? I could be doing so much right now, and there seem to be so many opportunities for the taking if I only had the time or money. In those cases it feels as though school, activities, and the expenses tied to both take away from time, energy, and money that I could spend "for God."

My answer to this question comes from Colossians 3:23. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men." This verse was written specifically for slaves with regards to their masters. Sometimes, school is a burden. But we must still give it our best effort. 

What I would like to focus on, however, is the fact that I can serve God by being a student. I think that when our motivation is pleasing the Lord, things as mundane as homework and studying can become acts of worship. I do not need to quit school and work at a downtown rescue mission full-time just to "serve the Lord." God has blessed me with a mind for numbers and solving problems so studying to become an engineer is my current calling. Living for God within the context of my own life is difficult, but far more manageable than the idea that I have to serve God by quitting something that I love (yes, I do love school. I'll admit it.) to do something that I quite possibly might hate. 

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