In a previous post, I argued that we can and should approach “unspiritual” topics like political science and botany as worthwhile subjects for Christian consideration. As Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. points out, “The learned person has…more to be Christian with.” Every subject of inquiry carries the potential for worship and more effective ministry.
But anyone who has ever worked in education at any level knows that Christians aren’t always the best students. And I’m not talking about an aptitude for academics. Whereas we might expect Christian students to do their work to the glory of God and use every subject to learn more about God and His world, Christian students often exert minimal effort in their schoolwork.
If you are a Christian student, you have been given the opportunity to learn about some aspect of the world that God created, the people He made, and the way they interact and think. Viewing education in this way sheds some light on the implications of being a poor student. Having the opportunity to learn these things (and education absolutely is a privilege) yet squandering that opportunity is less than Christian.
We sometimes think that our academics and our relationship with God are completely unrelated. But how could that possibly be the case? Everything on this earth relates back to God, so everything relates to your relationship with God. Plus every Christian student is charged with being a good steward of what he or she has committed to studying. Stewardship has huge implications for your relationship with God.
I know that there are complicating factors. Sometimes you unknowingly take too many units. Sometimes you face tragedy in the midst of a semester. Sometimes God brings an unavoidable ministry need during the only time you have available to study for your final. But let’s be honest, these things are rare. Every once in a great while, a good excuse for poor academic performance comes along. But most excuses are lame. The vast majority of poor academic performance has more to do with gaming, socializing (or social networking), and procrastinating than it does with legitimate reasons for putting schoolwork on hold.
I’m not saying that every Christian ought to be a scholar. But if God has given you the opportunity to learn within an academic setting (whether at a Christian or a secular institution), and if you have willing accepted the commitment that that opportunity entails, then your education has a lot to do with your relationship with God. We can’t pick and choose which areas of our lives we want to please God in. It doesn’t make any sense to try to please God by feeding a homeless person while being a poor steward of your schoolwork.
God cares about everything you do. So if you make academic commitments, don’t view those commitments as separate from your relationship with God. On the one hand, you will find fellowship with God as you seek to please Him in this area of your life. And on the other hand, you might be surprised to find God using some seemingly irrelevant assignment or lecture as a means to edify you and further His kingdom through you.