Monday, August 11, 2008

Always Learning

Sometimes I think public places should provide "non-television" sections, as they did "non-smoking" sections in the days before cigarettes were banished outdoors. Since the first generation to grow up eating in front of the television came of age, it's gotten harder and harder to find a restaurant where you can enjoy a leisurely meal without having CNN shoved in your face.

Not for nothing are the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries called the Information Age. When TV news runs 24/7; when we can get detailed reports on anything, anytime, via the Internet; when we're continually urged to keep up to date or risk seeing our businesses fail, our health deteriorate, and our appliances and gadgets turn into dinosaurs--it's no surprise that the "civilized" world swarms with information addicts who seem convinced their lives will end if they spend three days in nature without cell phone, laptop, and mini-library.

Many such people are perfect examples of Paul's remark regarding sinnners in the last days: "always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7, NIV). They stuff in all the information they can--as long as it informs them how to make a profit or otherwise benefit. They read dozens of books a year--but carefully choose books written by people who think like them. They observe and recall even the most objective of information in ways that reinforce their personal prejudices, noticing only the good examples among their own "kind" and the bad examples among the "enemy."

This is hardly a purely secular phenomenon; plenty of Christians use "they're sinners and we're saints" as an excuse to avoid considering that even enemies--even atheists--are sometimes right about where we need to change. Sadder yet is that many Christians spend more time reading newspapers than reading their Bibles, more time watching world news than praying for the world, more time learning how to advance their businesses than how to advance God's Kingdom.

The best way to keep from falling prey to the wrong kind of information addiction is to inoculate ourselves thoroughly with God-given information.

Ever since we took first breaths as infants,
We were constantly learning to live:
How to crawl; how to walk; conversation;
And good manners--"Say 'thanks.'" "Now forgive."

A bit older, we learned math and reading;
Ten years later, we learned how to drive;
As time passed, we learned trades, taxes, contracts--
We must learn all the days we're alive.

Yet so many let learning grow stagnant,
Till convinced that they know all they can,
And then cling to their own biased mindsets,
Or hold firm to some old stubborn plan.

There are those who believe their own thinking
Is as certain as words straight from God;
And they never admit faulty logic,
But scorn others as "sinful" or "odd."

As the lawyers who stood against Jesus,
So are many today whom we see:
They are sure in their quotes of God's Scripture,
But as far from Him as they can be.

So let us, lest we be found among them,
With hard hearts and a "love" cold and stern,
Not forget only God has all knowledge--
Let us never be too proud to learn!

No comments: