The Joy of Learning
To have a cognitive, conscious mind is a great blessing. To be inquisitive and want to understand things is also a great blessing. There is a childlike simplicity in wanting to understand. And yet we can allow our desire to learn and to know things overcome us, to the point where they control us. We can become so proud in all the knowledge we have gained, as individuals, within vocational fields, as nations, and as mankind as a whole.
Our intellectual feats and discoveries have been used to further us in many fields. Many of us find our sense of value and worth in how brilliant mankind has become. We have defeated tetanus, rabies, polio, and measles – not to mention gone to the moon and back. Not only that, but we live in a time of unprecedented access to information where so many people have the opportunity to explore the world through learning and discovery without having to leave the comforts of their own home. It can now also fit in your pocket, accessed anywhere, at any time. Education is no longer just for the student studying for their degree or PhD.
Everyone is an information consumer, whether they like it or not. But not everyone loves to learn.
To some it is just a passing thing and they don’t dig too deep. To others it is burdensome. And that is okay. Everyone has different strengths. Each has their own gifting and such seek to excel in the area of their gifting. However, many seek to learn in order to build themselves up: their own career, their own pride, their own sense of self-worth.
We so often fall into the trap of seeking our approval and praise from others – whether it be through good grades or the latest fashion trends. As a society, our learning has said, “We can do it on our own” and “We have all the answers.”
But we don’t.
From cancer to the common cold, we are not in control. Many things have eluded us, and it is not for lack of trying. For all our learning and intellectual feats, it has filled us with pride and caused us to turn from the One who does have all the answers.
From the One who creates and sustains everyone and everything – the Triune God existing in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And yet this God has been pleased to be gracious to us and still allow us to understand so much.
Learning loses its joy when it is done in order to find your worth or your identity. It is a burden because then you can never allow yourself to fail. You must succeed. It is left to the intellect, only those who have the capability to succeed. But even the most brilliant minds fail.
When learning is in response to the Lord Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, to who He is and what He has done in His work of creation and redemption, it becomes liberating.
Theologian Lorraine Boettner wrote:
Does that mean that those who do not know God can never truly know something?
Of course not. God is pleased to reveal much truth to man by means of common grace. However, without the light of the knowledge of the Creator, we will miss the point.
We miss the reason why everything has its being and its existence. This, in turn, will shape how we understand and interpret information. Colossians 1:15-17 tell us that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God and that all things exist through Him and for Him. This the reason why David could say, “I have more understanding than all of my teachers” (Psalm 119:99) – because he knew the One by whom and through whom all things exist.
Because I know the Lord Jesus Christ, because He has redeemed me and I have been adopted by the Father and sealed with the Holy Spirit, I am free from the burden of having to prove myself, even in the realm of academics and what I learn.
I am free to truly enjoy learning because in everything I learn it points me back to the One from whom all knowledge comes. No matter what I am studying, the one thing I am truly learning is that it is all about Jesus, and that gives me a joy that surpasses all knowledge.
Ashley serves as Women's Ministry Coordinator at Immanuel Church of Fujairah, which in the United Arab Emirates. She has a certificate in Women's Ministry and is currently studying for a certificate in Christian Ministry with Birmingham Theological Seminary. She also holds a diploma in horticulture. Ashley is married to Kieran, who also serves the church as pastoral assistant.