Chopping Down the Asherah of Higher Education
In my previous two educational rants, I made the following three assertions. Higher education is not necessary for financial well-being. Financial well-being is not necessary for happiness. Happiness throughout life comes from loving relationships. Most people will not object much to these three assertions and the reasons I gave for them. I would like to give one final assertion that I am sure many, particularly my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, may find repulsive. Those who believe that higher education is a necessary means for success and happiness in life are committing idolatry.
Christians who hold that higher education is a necessary means for “the good life,” are those who want a safe, secure, and peaceful existence for themselves and their children. After all, the blessed are those who are financially secure, strong, able, well fed, and safe from harm. Those who are poor, weak, hungry, and downtrodden are cursed. Right?
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. -Luke 6:20-23
Jesus redefined what it means to live “the good life,” and the means of achieving it. Christianity does not guarantee a safe and secure life free from harm. It actually promises the opposite in this present world.
“and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” -Matt 10:22
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” -John 15:18-19
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33b
“The good life” is a present reality and a future promise. We who are Christians are called to live based on trust in what Jesus Christ has accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection. We are also called to hope in His promise that we too will be raised with Him in His kingdom. Christians live in the present by faith in God, walking in His ways, and trusting in His promises. To trust in anything else to achieve “the good life” is to trust in a false promise, a false way, and a false god. It is idolatry. This is not to say that it is wrong for Christians to get a higher education, to have a nice income, or to live in relative safety. Yet, it is idolatrous to trust in these things in the place of God from whom all blessings flow.
“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” -John 12:25
Higher education is not necessary for financial well-being. Financial well-being is not necessary for happiness. Happiness in life comes from loving relationships. True happiness, or “the good life,” comes not by our education or achievements, but by trusting in Christ’s achievements, hoping in His promises, and loving our God who provides “the good life” in His kingdom.