We expect school teachers to prepare our children to meet further education entry requirements. They have to have a clear idea of what colleges and universities will expect. From the first day of school our youngsters are being prepared for that, and as they build year by year on what they have learned, they too should develop a clear idea of what they need to be able to demonstrate when they “finish”. Their objectives will likely grow clearer on the way; if so, they won’t major in subjects that they know don’t contribute to their goal.
What is the goal of Christian learning? It is not as though we are aiming to achieve entry credentials for heaven; God gives us those from the start of our training! In Rom.15:20 Paul told us about an intermediate goal: to bring the good news about Christ to places never before reached. If we are going to be capable of reasoning and persuading in defence of the Gospel, that will require some learning on our part, before we challenge others. And in 2 Cor.5:9 he made it clear that he intended to live his life in a way that pleased Christ. We are not to see Christian progress as an intellectual goal.
We are getting nearer to the answer when we read in Phil.3:8-14 Paul’s words about what he was striving to achieve. In its simplest terms, like Paul, our aim is to become like Christ. If you wanted to paint a portrait of Christ as a Man, you’d pay attention to what He looked like in every detail. If you wanted to sound like Him, you’d pay attention to every word: what He said and how He said it, and why. If you wanted to act in the same way as Him, you’d focus on exactly what He did and how He did everything, and do the same. Eventually, Rom.8:29 will apply!
Are we on track to graduating? Is that where our studies are leading?