Let’s face it: as Christians, the bar is set high. We must honor God in all things, study and apply His Word, live a moral life, love all people, help the helpless, deliver God’s Word to the world, be ambassadors of Christ…the list goes on and on. Indeed, we are commanded in the book of Mark to love and serve God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30, ESV). But we know that as terribly imperfect humans we can never live up to God’s standard.
So what happens when you try to love and serve God with “all your mind?" What happens when “head knowledge” and “heart knowledge” meet on the battleground of academia?
I want to address Christian students, those of all ages, strengths, and struggles. I don’t care if you are/were public schooled, private schooled, or homeschooled. As young Christian students, tackling the modern intellectual world, trying to absorb vast amounts of knowledge in so few years, and finding the truth in a lost world is a challenge.
I personally understand the pressure to know all the scientific evidence backing the Creation story. I was terrified I would be left speechless when asked for a cohesive, scientific defense of my views. I can give non-believers the Bible; I can give them my faith – but can I give them physical evidence from the fossils and geological structures of the Earth? Similarly, the social sciences, which probe the depths of the human mind, oftentimes find their fundamental assumptions in the wrong place, explaining the actions of serial killers and terrorists solely on cultural and psychological factors. I know that sin is the bedrock of the world’s evil, but what do I say to people who have no concept of sin?
In all of these cases, there is pressure to use scientific and logical arguments to convince people who won’t be convinced by the simplicity of faith.
Christian students: we know we’re expected to have all the answers to life’s deepest and most difficult questions. We know we’re supposed to have it all figured out, but can we, as very young and still-learning humans, live up to all this?
The truth is we don’t need to.
First realize that our minds alone are insufficient to discern truth from falsehood. By pouring all our energy into developing our minds to navigate this world of sin, we underscore God’s purpose for us. He gave us His Word as a lamp for our feet and gave us our minds for His service and glory.
When we learn, we should do so with the mindset of giving God glory, not of tackling the world’s deep and difficult questions on our own. When people ask for evidence that God is who He says He is, we cannot rely on ourselves. Even Jesus was beset by unbelievers demanding a sign of His sovereignty: “And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven” (Matthew 16:1, ESV). The answers to hard questions can only come from God.
You don’t have to know everything about Earth science to point people to God’s miraculous work in Creation; you don’t have to know how the human mind works to explain that it is completely perverse and defiant of God. God gave us Christians our brains and tongues to do wonderful things, but they alone cannot convince a world hardened to God. It takes God’s grace. “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you’” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV). Do not be like Moses and ask for someone else to advocate. Trust God to advocate through you when and where the opportunity arrives, with all the assets He’s given you: your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
My warning to you, Christian student: beware of relying on yourself alone to answer to the world and defend your faith. You are never alone. Many Christian scholars have gone before you and written volumes of enlightening apologetics that can give you an adequate knowledge base. However, the most important volume to return to is the Bible. Return to it daily and glean all-sufficient knowledge.
From Christ flows streams of life that don’t carve out canyons over billions of years, but that transform a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Pray and seek after that life-giving knowledge. Pursue God in all your years of learning and growing, and He will reward you. “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phillipians 4:7, ESV).
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