I love learning. About almost anything.
I just love studying things, understanding how they work, and why they are the way they are. I’m a complete geek! I’m frequently teased by my housemate for talking about science (because it’s awesome, I’ll have you know).
And I have just had an incredibly, nerd-ily exciting afternoon reading about how God reveals Himself to the humble but hides Himself from the proud. He reveals Himself to people who know that without Jesus they can’t truly know Him. He hides Himself from people who are offended by the idea that only with God’s help do we truly understand reality.
Firstly, before reading this I recommend reading chapter 10 of The Pleasures of God by John Piper. Then you’ll know how much of this is off the back of what he’s said.
“One basic and compelling reason for education – the rigorous training of the mind – is, very simply, so that a person can read the Bible with understanding.”
The Pleasures of God, p.292
We know God through reading and studying the Bible and through studying what He has made to see how it reflects God. Yet study should inflame our affections for God, too – because God’s aim is to glorify Himself, even in learning about astrophysics or syntax or chiaroscuro, or any other technical study. We need God’s help in these things, because study without delighting in God’s glory leaves us with a distorted vision of reality, one in which we can start thinking that our own cleverness somehow means we don’t need Him.
This makes my brain and my heart explode in a kind of happy firework display, because it means that when done well, education helps us to know God better, helps us to love Him more, helps us to glorify Him.
I remember a couple of moments at university when I experienced this. Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten 99% of what I learned at uni (sad times) so I did try to find the video online and look up the details, but sadly I can’t remember enough to find it out, so you’ll have to do with my vague memory…
In one physiology class my lecturer shared a video of the moment a human egg is fertilised in the womb. The sperm swim around, and when they find the egg they start burrowing through the egg’s wall to get in. When the first one gets in, it sets of a reaction in the wall to make it impossible for other sperm to get through (to make sure the DNA of the new baby doesn’t get messed up). It starts at the point where the first sperm cell was and spreads like a wave over the whole thing. Call me weird, but it’s beautiful – that’s the moment a new person’s body is created! When God starts knitting them together in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139). There was a moment like that for me, for my body, way back nine months before I was born. That was the moment God created me.
And another time, when I was in a class learning about TB. We had a case study of this poor patient who just got worse and worse, his x-rays were awful pictures of lungs horribly clouded up. You could imagine how hard it was for him to breathe. After months and months of gruelling treatment, taking so many drugs because TB is so difficult to get rid of, his lungs looked a bit like this:
It was beautiful.
God heals and gives us means for healing. He frees us from the burden of sin and guilt that crushes us and will eventually kill us. What I saw in that patient’s story was a picture of how God has saved me and given me life.
So I love my education because of how it has trained me to know God. I’ve spent 17 years of my life in education, being taught on a range of things, and I love it!
- I love Chemistry because it taught me that the universe is built of things made of smaller things – and ‘important’ things (like us) wouldn’t physically exist without these tiniest things (OK, so that’s starting to get into particle physics but I didn’t learn about anything smaller than an electron so there). And that helps me understand that God works on many levels that build on and enhance each other.
- I love Physics because it taught me that the universe is ordered, existing within the boundaries of rules that we can discover. That helps me understand that God is knowable.
- I love Maths because it taught me logic. That helps me to reason, test and search the Bible for meaning.
- I love English because it taught me understanding of how my native language works. That helps me understand that God chooses to communicate clearly to us who He is through His written Word, the Bible. Side point: One of the most significant things my English teacher taught me was that essays are crafted, not just written. And that is something God has used to teach me how to help people understand His word with their hearts as well as their heads (in the small capacity that I do that in), for which I am incredibly grateful.
- I love English Literature because it taught that communication is more than just stating facts, and how to understand what a piece of writing is communicating. This has taught me how to read the Bible in all the different ways it is written – historical, poetic, etc.
- I love French because it taught me that other languages don’t work like my mother-tongue does, and so reading the Bible involves working at understanding the intended meaning of the text, not just what I assume it says.
- I love History because it taught me about how humans act and react, and what has happened before my short lifespan. And it has shown me that God works on a massive scale, way beyond the small blip of the world that I have known. It has taught me how to evaluate texts and understand interactions between nations, which helps me understand God’s work among and interaction with humans as told in the Bible (and seen since!).
- I love Art because it taught me what it’s like to create beauty (or, maybe more accurately, how to attempt to create something that I think is beautiful!). That helped me understand that God’s glory is more than just factual; He is beautiful.
- I love RE because it helped me understand that what I believe affects how I perceive the world and how I act. Another side point: one of the most valuable things my RE teacher taught me was that what people do, say and communicate is always rooted in how they believe the world to be.
- I love PE (I won’t lie, often this ‘love’ is more of a choice than an instinct!) because it taught me to train and strive for something good, and that sometimes good things require work that is effort you really feel . That helps me understand what God means when He says we must work hard to kill sin and grow in godliness; and that after the pains of this world there is a prize that will be far more than worth it.
- I love Biology because, besides being my favourite subject, it shows me just how intricate and connected God’s work is; His ingenuity in creating an infinite variety of life; His care and attention to detail. And it has taught me how to prize truth rather than opinion, how to discern what data means; and that has helped me to prize the truth God has revealed in the Bible and use that to clearly see, rather than deciding what I want the Bible to say and then shoe-horning it into my opinion.
- I love Clinical Microbiology because it shows me that God has provided for us in the midst of the fall, giving us a body that can fight to survive when under attack by infection; it shows me a God of grace, who has provided us the means of healing from illness; it shows me the sheer genius of the strategies in the war between our bodies and the bugs that infect us, reflecting the sheer genius of God even in something that can be so messed up and cause so much suffering. And through this I see more of God’s glory and wisdom reflected in what He has created – that even in a fallen world we can see some of His goodness and grace shine through.
And I love God because He created the full use of our minds to be able to worship Him.
I love Him from the way He made me to work as a nerd because He created geeks to bring Him glory!