The Purpose of Education

“The point of the resurrection… is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die… What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it… What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbour as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it…). They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”

N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

As we begin another term of school, it sometimes makes me wonder what the purpose of all this education is! Does the knowledge gained really change anything, are the skills learnt really that useful, does the service offered really make a difference? How do we judge the value of a ‘good’ education and what are we to use it for? Our Year 12s are working hard to determine what they might ‘do’ in the future. But what is the purpose of all this ‘doing’ by people every day?

It seems to me that what we actually ‘do’ in the end doesn’t really matter. It’s more a question of ‘why’ and ‘for whom’. Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus’. The Message translation puts it this way; “Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master…”

The choice to live for ourselves – to pursue an education and vocation – to please ourselves and build up earthly reward whether it is in reputation or income, can be quietly alluring. This is what ‘the world’ tells us all the time. 

You deserve it! Don’t miss out! Get ahead! You need this! Everybody else has one! Look out for yourself!

Yet, God’s calling is for us to be Kingdom builders. To do ‘whatever’ in His name and in the service of others. The daily motivation is in using whatever skills and talents given to us by Him (and certainly honed and developed by education!) to build God’s Kingdom of peace, love, justice, compassion, humility and wisdom here on earth. As C. Plantinga writes in his book Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning and Living (2002)“The point of all this learning is to prepare to add one’s own contribution to the supreme reformation project, which is God’s restoration of all the things that have been corrupted by evil.” 

N.T. Wright suggests that the purpose of all our earthly ‘doing’ is not just to make this life more bearable, but to use our “…sewing…teaching…and campaigning for justice” to build the Kingdom that God calls us to be part of. That what we do now actually makes a difference in the life to come.

For me, that’s a reason to get up in the morning! It’s the reason that staff at Mount Evelyn Christian School year after year ‘sow seeds’ of Kingdom life into their students! It’s also the reason that we equip all our students with the knowledge, skills and opportunities for service that they will need to bring glory to God in ‘whatever’ they choose to do now and in the future. 

Written by Narelle Sketcher – MECS Principal

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