An ambitious generation
Student rallies to protest cuts to higher education in Australia last month led me to an interesting discovery: government spending on higher education has grown at double the rate of the growth of the economy over the last 20 years.
And while economists are now grappling with strategies to respond to this situation, what I would like to focus on here is what this increased demand for tertiary training shows about today's young people: we are ambitious.
In fact, globally, we are the most urban, highly-educated generation the world has ever seen, and worldwide trends show that many young people go to great lengths to pursue excellence in education and broaden their career horizons.
What is the dream, the vision that inspires students to spend weeks, months and years dedicating themselves to study, to knowledge?
For some, it may be to honour the sacrifices their parents have made for them, and to store up an inheritance of 'cultural capital' for their own children. For others, education could be a stepping stone to fame and fortune. In either case, through further education, we are encouraged to attain excellence and to become leaders in our chosen fields.
Beyond our wildest dreams
As people made in the image of an intelligent, creative God, we are designed with an amazing capacity to be fruitful, to prosper (Genesis chapter 1, verses 28-29) and to live abundant lives (John chapter 10, verse 10). Jesus challenged his listeners to be proactive in using the skills and abilities given to them by God (Matthew chapter 25) and not to waste them.
Over and above his call to excellence in everyday pursuits, Jesus went beyond our wildest dreams in revealing what abundant life in the Kingdom could look like:
'...the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.'
(Matthew chapter 11, verse 5)
In addition to possessing a wisdom and knowledge capable of confounding the most learned of men, Jesus also walked in the power and authority of the Spirit of God. Spirit and Truth, walking hand-in-hand to bring the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
God's Kingdom is 'open entry'
So what kind of person is God hiring? Who is eligible for his program?
Interestingly, Biblical heroes of the faith were a mixed bunch. Some, like the disciples of Jesus, had no formal education (Acts chapter 4, verses 13-14). Others, like the Apostle Paul, had studied with the best of the best (Acts chapter 22, verse 3). And yet both groups saw the dead raised to life!
The 12 disciples amazed the crowds, preaching with an eloquence they had never been taught; their words and miracles both evidence of the Holy Spirit at work within them.
The Apostle Paul used his thorough theological training and education in Greek philosophy to reach the Gentiles (non-Jews), employing the intellect as well as signs and wonders to convince many to put their faith in Jesus Christ and be 'born again'.
What God is looking for is people who will live as disciples: lifelong learners of Jesus who will continually 'repent' (change our thinking) and 'believe' (trust and obey) to be ever-more transformed into his likeness, learning to pray as Jesus prayed, think as he thought, see things as he saw them, do what he did, and ultimately, see Heaven released here and now. He can take our skills and efforts and make them count for something far greater than we could ever imagine!
Through this process, we grow into our true identity as sons and daughters of the King—learning to do what we see the Father doing; living a lifestyle of excellence and supernatural obedience, and trusting him to provide for our day-to-day needs as we live and work for his glory.
To paraphrase King Solomon: friends, family, study, work, and the fruits of our labour are gifts from God to enjoy. But you know what? God is even more ambitious for our lives than we are: he also wants us to achieve excellence in the Kingdom!
Rosanne Menacho is a disciple-in-progress, learning to walk (albeit clumsily) in 'sonship' by taking small steps of faith each day. While studying a Master's degree of Interpreting and Translation and aiming for excellence in every assignment and exam, she looks for opportunities to translate Jesus' love to the world around her.
Rosanne Menacho's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosanne-menacho.html