Monday, January 19, 2009

Learning in War-Time

I really enjoyed reading this sermon, because I often wonder what I am doing at school when I should be out experiencing life and following my hopes and dreams. However, in my head I have my own plans but they are not likely God's plans. Furthermore, I find it difficult to believe that it is God's will for me to spend years in college. Lewis presented an argument that shined light on my thoughts though.

"How can you be so frivolous and selfish as to think of anything but the war?" "How can you be so frivolous and selfish as to think of anything but the salvation of human souls?"

Lewis wrote this in a time when a war was going on, but I think it has great importance for anyone, in any time period. How can we as college students be so selfish as to spend all our time in classes and not out helping the poor? However, we cannot think that life is so exclusive. We can be religious while still being national. "Before I became a Christian I do not think I fully realized that on'es life, after conversion would inevitable consist in doing most of the same things one had been doing before: one hopes, in a new spirit, but still the same things." I like this a lot, because I most of think this way. We expect life to completely change the instant we become a Christian, but that is not the case. We live the same life before, but now we have a new motivation. Lewis says that neither enlistment in the army nor Christianity will obliterate the human life; neither of the two will wash away the life we lived before we entered them.
"Life has never been normal."
We tend to compare our new life with our old, thinking that becoming a Christian (or soldier, or doctor, etc.) means leaving our "normal" life, and that is just not true.

I really like when Lewis says that political duties are worth dying for, but not living for. A man must die for his country, but no man must live for his country. This is the opposite of religious duties, because religion must occupy our whole life. "God's claim is infinite and inexorable." We belong to God, so we must not surrender ourselves to earthly duties. There should not be competition between the two though; God is present everywhere, so even our earthly duties can glorify Him. "All our merely natural activities will be accepted, if they are offered to God, even the humblest: and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not." A lot of people in class disagreed with that statement, but I do not. I think that everything we do can either please God or pull us away from Him. Everything from clothing, sports, work, play can be used sinfully or they can be used to please God. All activities we do can be sacred if we do them in the name of the Lord.

It's not until the middle of the sermon does Lewis actually get into the need for learning and education. "Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy must be answered." We must be educated to combat the ignorant. God created us with this desire to learn, and if we do not learn about Him we cannot spread word of His awesomeness. Additionally, we must know about other religions and practices so we can be equipped to argue for the Truth. However, we cannot simply have knowledge; we must pair it with action. "The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable." There may be a war going on, but we must seek to learn at all times. We cannot wait for ideal conditions, because ideal conditions do not exist. "If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure the search would never have begun."

I pray to have this kind of understanding about the purpose of learning. "When this happens..." or "When I graduate..." or "After I make enough money..." are all phrases I am guilty of using. However, the time is now, and I cannot afford to waste any of the time God has blessed me with. We cannot know when our time is up on earth, so we cannot assume we will do God's will next week or next year.

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