Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Education: The Power of Knowledge, Discipline, and Submission

The best selling book of all time tells us that my people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge [Hosea 4:6]. As a collective, we understand that without knowledge survival in this world is difficult. We also understand that knowing and still choosing to live an ignorant life is worse than not having knowledge at all.

The educational system is the most accessible means of gaining knowledge and power in America. In contrast to many other countries, American children between the ages of five and sixteen in most states must attend school. Level of education is positively correlated to and a predictor of income. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average monthly income of a person with a high school diploma is $906, compared to $2,625 for a person with a bachelor’s degree. The average monthly income of individuals with a professional degree is $5,534. Despite knowing the economic advantages of education, many children [and their parents] do not take the educational system seriously. They refuse to submit to the authority of their teachers, discipline in their homes is nonexistent, knowledge is viewed as something useless or nerdy, and as a result of their decisions, they grow up to be powerless adults. I am also aware that there are many people with high levels of education who are also ignorant and powerless. There are also people with low educational attainment who achieve power, because they became knowledgeable and/or business savvy in something.

In a similar manner as the world, without education, submission, discipline, and knowledge we are powerless in God’s kingdom. The most important step to power in God’s kingdom is submission to his word. Submission is difficult, because we are an individualistic society. We do what we want to do, and we put our interests before the interests of others. Before I go any further, I need to clarify submission. From a biblical perspective, submission is universal. Christians are first subject to God [Ephesians 5:21; Peter 1:17], and then to one another [Romans 12:10]. Biblical submission is motivated by faith, hope, love, and results in self-sacrifice (Deffinbaugh 2007). While submission in our crazy world is a matter of authority, biblical submission is putting the interests of others ahead of our own.

Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. [Job 22:21]

Submission has been greatly misconstrued in our society to the point that when we hear the word submission, we think about abuse, slavery, or sexism. Negative attributes about submission are especially true in the area of marriage. Unfortunately, many societies and churches were quick to teach that women should submit to their husbands [Ephesians 5:22-24], but slow to teach the line below it which states that husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word. Husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies... [Ephesians 5:25]. Going out of God’s order, many women submitted themselves to men who didn’t treat them well or who were not submitted to God, and many men taught this passage as a means to oppress.

Submission according to the word of God is not oppression. There is beauty, protection, and order in submission. We are called to submit to our spouses, parents, teachers, and those in charge. However, when submission to one authority conflicts with submission to another, we are subject to the higher authority, which is God! Anything that conflicts with his word is out of order.

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still
belonged to it, do you submit to its rules? [Colossians 2:20].

Submission is the core of a person's relationship with God. It is the heart of discipleship, because we are not only called to believe in Jesus, but we are also called to follow him (Deffinbaugh 2007). I am submitted to the Word of God, also known as the Bible, which provides instruction for the way God wants me to treat others [Matthew 19:19; Matthew 5:44; Ephesians 4:1-31], how to worship him [Psalm 95:6], my finances [Leviticus 27:30], the kind of man I am supposed to date or marry [Ephesians 5:25-33], the kind of woman I need to be [1Peter 3:1-6], my emotions [1Corinthians 13:4-13; Philippians 4:6], and the list goes on. I am open to the Lord’s discipline, because I know that no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it [Hebrews 12:11].

Singles are called to be submitted to God [1 Corinthians 7:32]. Once I become married I will be submitted to my husband [and God]. Although I am submitted to the Word of God, I decided to take some advice from my girl Ruth and submit myself to a woman [teacher] who is more mature in the Lord than I am and who can provide me with sound counsel.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ [Ephesians 5:22].

I asked a woman from church who I admire to mentor me. I also told her that I wanted to be submitted to her and would serve her in any way possible. My submission to her means that I trust her to provide me with Godly counsel when I am not sure about a certain situation. It also means that I will follow her advice. I’m not perfect. I am tempted in certain areas, and there are many things that God is working out in me. I have a master’s degree, so I am pretty educated and have influence by worldly standards, but I need as much knowledge as possible in areas concerning God’s kingdom. Just as I was submitted to the guidance of my mentors during college and grad school, and I need to be submitted to the guidance of my mentors in Christ.

The book of Ruth is one of my favorite books in the bible, because it clearly illustrates how seeking knowledge, submission, and discipline yield power and love. Please take the time to read this short story. In summary, Ruth submitted herself to Naomi, her deceased husband’s mother. Ruth said to Naomi:

Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die and there I may be buried. May the lord deal with me be it ever so severely if anything, but death separates you from me [Ruth 1: 16-17].

Ruth could have left Naomi and remarried, but she decided to submit to her and serve her. Let’s not forget that Ruth’s people were pagans, and she still decided to submit to the God Naomi worshipped.
Ruth was richly rewarded for her submission to God and Naomi. Boaz, a wealthy and respected man, found favor in Ruth because of they way she took care of her mother- in- law (discipline/serving). Boaz would not let any man touch Ruth as she gleaned in the fields (protection). Ruth carefully followed Naomi’s instructions (knowledge) for interacting with Boaz. Boaz and Ruth married, and we know their descendants include David and Jesus Christ (power). There are so many other biblical illustrations of how education, knowledge, submission, and discipline resulted in power. Just think about Jesus, Abraham, Hannah, Moses, Job, David, and Esther, to name a few.

I mentioned earlier that my people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge, and what’s even worse is when people know, but are still ignorant. My dear, I am not perfect and there are things on this list that I need to work on, but seriously, how many people say they are Christians and claim to know what the Word says, but are ignorant to it. We say we are Christians, but our actions are in opposition to the word. We educate ourselves in other areas and submit ourselves to junk. However, we fail to educate ourselves in submission to the Lord. We want the perks of a relationship with God, but we don’t want to serve him with our all and die to our old selves. We want God to give us what we want, but we don’t take the time to see what his will is for our lives. In a similar manner, many youth and adults want to be instantly gratified with the money that comes from education, but they don’t want to work and sacrifice to get through high school or to get that business idea going.

It is when we humble ourselves, submit ourselves to the Lord, and accept discipline and his teaching that true power comes. Our lives become enriched with prosperity, love, and peace. As we educate ourselves in current affairs, academia, politics, research, and business, let us also remember to educate our spirits and hearts. As we discipline ourselves in order to achieve our physical and monetary dreams, let’s also remember to discipline our flesh. As we submit to our bosses, government officials, money, and leaders in civic organizations, let’s also remember to submit to the one above. How blessed would our communities be if our doctors, lawyers, business people, athletes, teachers, engineers, researchers, and writers lived according to the word of God? I love you!

Here are some questions to think about:
I’ll answer a few...............

What will you do to ensure that your children respect education?
Make learning fun, provide mentors who work in fields my children are interested in; be active in their school; expose them to art, history, and science exhibits; discipline them; take them on vacations to other countries so they can see how good they have it; make sure they know the history of African American education; introduce them to the Word of God and pray that they accept Jesus and come to know the Lord in an intimate way
What is knowledge?
Who are you submitted to?
God, my mother, my mentors, my pastor, some of my friends, my boss
Does your pride prevent you from submitting to others?
What are you submitted to?
To whom is the person you are dating , married to, or like submitted?
Dating/Married--N/A. I know attractive men, but I don't like anyone right now. My closest friends know that one week I can like someone and then one day I don't. To date, no one has been able to hold my attention. I once dated a guy who was not submitted to God or anyone. He did what he wanted to do and his way was always right. All he cared about was money, even though he came from a wealthy and humble family. It was disastrous and a learning lesson =).
How can you be more powerful?
The best way for me to be powerful is to have a beautiful spirit to match the credentials on paper. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law [Galatians 5:22-23]. Gentleness is often looked at as a weakness, especially for the new millennium women of today, but I feel the most influential when I am gentle, cool, calm, and collected.
Can you accept discipline and criticism?

Criticism--For most of my life I couldn’t. I was hard on myself. Now I can be criticized and “keep it moving.”
Discipline-- yes
What areas of your life are in opposition to the Word?
I have to work harder than most people to not worry about situations. I know worry is doubt.
I have to check myself to make sure I am loving those who don't treat me well.

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