Why School? Part 5: Beautiful Not Boring

My Dear Students,

Why have I spent so much time talking about how school helps us become wise and virtuous people? Why does that matter so much and why does it make education significant?

Our God loves wisdom and goodness and hates foolishness and evil. As His followers, we know that we should seek wisdom and goodness in every aspect of our lives. Of course, we do not seek to do what is right to earn salvation, but because good lives are what the Lord wants from us. Doing what is good and right is much more important than any success or achievement that we could have in this world. 

Since wisdom and virtue are so important, it makes sense that we would seek after them faithfully. It makes sense that we would go to school to grow to become the kind of people that God wants us to be.

Seeking after wisdom and virtue, however, does not sound as glamorous as a lot of other goals that we could have. Somehow we often equate “good” with boring, uptight, and restrictive. We equate wisdom with old professors and dusty books. We probably don’t even use the word virtue, or at least not very often. 

In contrast with the dull images conjured up by words such as wise and virtuous, we are naturally drawn to things that are a little bit rebellious, manipulative, and bad. We enjoy our own successes, and we like the thrill of getting away with something. We like admiring ourselves and we are inherently attracted to the very things we are told not to do. We enjoy dominating others and we enjoy winning others over. We like power. We want to do things our own way, and we disdain the idea of authority. We like comfort and ease and pleasure. We would prefer to serve ourselves than to serve anyone else, and we would certainly rather be everyone else’s idol than everyone else’s servant. In other words, there is a glamour and attractiveness to sin that draws us time and again to do what is not right, what is not virtuous, what is not wise. Satan is very clever, and we are very easily fooled.

When we are drawn to sin, we glance over at wisdom and virtue and think, how boring must that be! Why would I ever want to place those restrictions on myself? 

And thus the wise and virtuous life is not one that we will choose to live because it seems grand and glorious. If we choose it, the wise and virtuous path is one that we will take because we know the truth, and the truth is that sin will lead only to destruction, no matter how grand and glorious it seems. The truth is that a wise and virtuous life is beautiful–stunningly beautiful–but the beauty is sometimes hard to distinguish and certainly not always easy to feel. The wise and virtuous life is challenging and risky. It requires self-denial and patience and the humility to let go of another’s wrongs. It is often unpopular and its course is not always easy to see. It requires that we give up personal gain and not seek our own glory. It requires us to admit wrongs and to know our weaknesses. Yet in all this, it is stunningly beautiful in the way that it gives up what is temporary for the sake of what is eternal.

So you see, when we talk at length about the purpose of school, and I say over and again that one of the main purposes of school is that it helps us become wise and virtuous people (or at least it should), what I am talking about is that school can help you seek after that which is stunningly beautiful. School can help you distinguish between things that are appealing but false, and things that appear dull but are truly lasting and good. 

We can never attain goodness on our own. We will always fail. We can never please God. Yet we can indeed dedicate our lives to Him; we can seek goodness and truth and wisdom and virtue; we can follow Him. And when we fail, we can ask for forgiveness, which He willingly grants us, because Jesus died and rose again for our sake. 

I pray that God will guide us all in wisdom and virtue and to show us the true beauty of a wise and virtuous life.