A Crash Course in Learning

Today, I discovered something: Homework was invented to make us study, and studying was invented to make us learn. After over 14 years of education, you would think I have already learned that. But apparently not.

For today’s Systematic Theology class, we were supposed to have compiled a list of the Biblical Names of God. It’s a very long list, but we were instructed to find at least find the most common ones, including the most commonly known compound names of Jehovah. A straight-forward task. I, being me, put off the homework till a few hours before class. It was pretty easy, I read it once then compiled it nicely onto my notes and went to class. Upon entering the classroom, our teacher, being our good teacher, told us we were having an open-notes quiz. Nice. The catch? We were to use the notes of the person next to us. Not so nice. So there we were, listening to the questions “What Hebrew Name of God was used in Genesis 1:1…?” and “What is the Name of God that means ‘Eternal’?” We were going crazy trying to flip through our classmates’ notes. Worse off, the others didn’t write down their homework so some of us didn’t have any notes to look at even though they did do their homework. In the end, our teacher didn’t collect the papers, he let us study it again. That was the lesson or rather lessons for tonight.

Ah. Such lessons they were. There’s at least three valuable life principles learned in the span of thirty minutes:

The first being – always, always study homework, and learn from it. If you didn’t learn anything from doing it, don’t bother submitting it. I can’t believe that after four years of college I haven’t learned that yet.

The second lesson – everything we do or don’t do affects other people. It was corporately embarrassing for us. We did our homework but we barely bothered to study it. We are expected to teach entire congregations at the end of all this studying and we can’t even make up decent enough notes for our classmates to use. We devote ourselves to studying, not only for ourselves, but for the sake of those who hear us (1 Timothy 4:15-16).

The third lesson – when it comes to the Word, we study because we want to draw closer to God. I, for one, evaluated myself at the end of class. Am I really studying for the right reasons? Even more than learning about God, am I studying to get to know God more? Ironically enough, the point of studying the  Names of God is to learn more about His character. The Name of a being inherently describes that being. More than a means of identification, Names provided an identity. In studying God’s Name, we come to know God more. We are drawn closer to Him. I couldn’t even be bothered to read it twice. Even for homework credit. I wonder what my name says about me.

I started this semester thinking I’m an expert in studying and I’m going to study the Bible because I love it. Yet the more I learn this semester, the more I realize how shallow my love for the Word and studying the Word is. That means my relationship with God needs a lot more working on than I could ever realize. Indeed, how is it possible to fully know Someone who is infinitely higher and deeper and greater than myself? The more I know, the more I realize the possibilities of what I do not know.

To some up today’s lesson learned: There’s so much more to learn.


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