Education in the ancient world was typically provided for the “elite.” Those who could read and write comprised roughly 3-5% of the population. This statistic holds true for not only Israel, but the surrounding cultures. However, those with money would be able to enroll their children in the care of a tutor, school father, or slave trained to educate. Since these students would become “scribes” they would be valuable for not only teaching Torah or the history of God’s people, but also legal contracts, and communicating with other cultures. As the educated class they would be tempted in their faith, loyalty to God, social justice matters, and personal or sexual ethics. The early Jewish scribes and teachers believed that “the fear of the Lord” was not only the key to knowledge and wisdom, but a way of life.
The early Christian community not only believed in this “fear of the Lord,” but discipline toward following Jesus. For this community education, knowledge, and wisdom involved the discipline to walk with Jesus and lead your community toward salvation and spiritual growth. As with the ancients, the Christian teachers believed that community formed wisdom and knowledge. In the midst of competing voices from other “gods,” globalism, and Roman imperialism; the early Christians found truth in their calling and faith in the “shamefully murdered Messiah.”
Today we have countless avenues to learn and grow. The internet has not only provided access to global knowledge, it has created an privatize yet “lonely” way to learn. Knowledge has been used to attack or “disprove” others rather than building up and unifying a people. Wisdom as experience is sometimes viewed as “out of date,” while new and changing forms of information come and go. Today educators struggle to teach a generation that not only has access to information at their fingertips, but struggles with the discipline and commitment to digging deep–even if it becomes uncomfortable. Education many times involves “protection” rather than exposure to that which challenges me.
Our sermon series will explore the book of Ecclesiastes with it’s claim that knowledge and life seem “bogus” yet, peace still exists while enjoying the simple things of life. The writer of Hebrews warns that intellectual and spiritual growth is necessary, even if our convictions create suffering, persecution, or feelings of helplessness. While knowledge might seem to be a blessing and a curse; wisdom viewed as “old or outdated” thinking; and discipline “painfully boring,” they help us grow both spiritually and intellectually. They lead us down a path that offers hope and allows us to see, with new eyes, the world around us.
September 29: Special lesson for Freedom Sunday–
October 27: Special lesson for Abuse Awareness Sunday–