Lois wrote us after reading yesterday’s Catch, “As a Christian and an educator, I know how you felt, John. It is heartwarming to find young people who think. Sadly, most schools are teaching information and not critical thinking. Blessedly, I have three homeschoolers who are intelligent thinkers. Praise the Lord!”
Yes, indeed, however there is a price to be paid for teaching any level of critical thinking.
What do you do when you teach someone how to think, and then you don’t particularly like what they come up with? What if you teach your child to think for his or herself, and then you realize you raised an atheist? What do you do then? You lovingly enter into the discussion. You realize you can’t dictate what your child thinks, you have to enter into your child’s life and win them over with rational arguments and loving support and huge amounts of prayer for the Holy Spirit to grab a hold of their heart.
If you think about it, this isn’t too far from how the Lord must feel about us. He gave us a free will, and then entered into life with us, and we’re coming up with all kinds of crazy theories, religions and conclusions about who we are, how we got here and where this is all going. Don’t you think God knew this would happen? Don’t you think He has somehow worked His will into all of this without violating ours? Don’t you think He struggles with this? How He prayed over the great city of Jerusalem and wanted to gather everyone to Him but they wouldn’t all come (Matthew 23:37). “He came unto His own but His own received Him not” (John 1:11). How’s that feel for a parent? Not very good. Welcome to God’s world.
Here is the amazing thing: God gave us free will and then took the patience to enter into the conversation with us. Remarkable. God created us with minds of our own and then He says, “Come, let us reason together…” (Isaiah 1:18).
People are going to think what they want to think regardless. If we create an environment where they are free to do that, we are creating an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work. If we create an environment where a child is free to only think what we want them to think, we usually end up with either blind acceptance, rebelliousness or hypocrisy. Christian colleges are full of students who are throwing off the things they were taught to think at the first opportunity. This is why I like Christian colleges so much; many students are thinking for themselves for the first time in their lives. Yet as educators, we can enter into the discussion. That’s actually the part I enjoy the most.
Of course it’s easier when it’s someone else’s kid. Much harder when it’s your own. We have taught Chandler to think for himself and I must say, I’m not real happy about all of the conclusions he is coming up with right now. I get the appeal of only teaching what to think. It would be so much easier if we could get our kids to think like us. I often wish I could do that, but honestly, I don’t think you can anyway, unless you want to join a cult and brainwash everybody.
At the same time, when Chandler does come up with something on his own that is full of truth, there is hardly anything quite as energizing or exciting. Then you realize it is the Lord’s doing.
The other Chandler I recently met (see yesterday’s Catch) told me that he was a former atheist. After hearing from his mother, who commented on yesterday’s Catch, it would appear she is a believer. Let’s assume she’s been a believer for a while now and went through her son’s atheist period as well as this one now of belief and commitment. Imagine what that was like. Imagine the pain and the joy, and realize we have to know both if we are going to treat people the way God treats us.
I conclude these thoughts today with what she wrote: “Chandler is at least as excited to meet you, John! He thrives on great minds, deep thinking, and conversations of significance. I’m not so sure of the origin of this lineage….but how grateful we are for this blessing who is our son. I’m certain God has big plans for your Chandler and ours; it is exciting to ponder the possibilities of this journey.”
Yes, Bettina, indeed it is.