“Look at the photograph!”
We dutifully rose from our desks and walked to the front of the room where a black and white photo was posted. It was a photograph of a native American Indian. With a feather in his hair, it looked very similar to other photographs I had previously seen. As we studied the photo, our teacher declared. “Indian men didn’t need to shave!”
My classmates and I recoiled and randomly shouted. “What?” “No way!” “C’mon!”
Such a conversation would immediately be canceled and shamed today. However, this was 1976. I was in 8th grade and the man who told us this was my history teacher. I had no reason to question him and growing up in Hawaii, I had no exposure to native American Indians. I was exposed to many such inappropriate teachings when I was young. Although I was raised and educated to question everything I heard, some ideas were questioned more readily than others. It was not until several years later when I discovered how narrow minded and misinformed my teacher was.
My spiritual journey was no different. I attended a Christian school from the sixth grade. During these seven years until I graduated, I attended a chapel service twice a week and took my mandatory religion classes. It was assumed by all that I was a Christian as I studied the parables of Jesus Christ, the great kings of Israel, and learned about the Patriarchs of the Bible and the origin of the Jewish civilization. However, I never learned that I was a sinner. In fact, just the opposite. I learned that we are all basically good people. God gives us rules to live and by following them, we go to Heaven. Like my history teacher, I never questioned these teachings. However, when I matriculated to college, I quickly became disillusioned with my comfortable world view. I lacked discernment. God soon showed me how to find it.
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)
A wise person once stated, “Discernment is the ability to see things for what they really are and not for what you want them to be. The heart of spiritual discernment is being able to distinguish the voice of the world from the voice of God.” Only when I began to read the Bible with an eye to spiritual discernment rather than to fulfill a homework assignment, did I begin to understand who Jesus Christ is and what He means to me. I am a sinner, hopelessly lost in my own wretched state. No amount of good works or acts of kindness would ever change my forlorn condition. God knows this and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross for my sins. When He was resurrected three days later, He showed that all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will receive salvation and eternal life.
This is such a different message than what I learned in my middle and high school! I was exposed to many inappropriate teachings during my formative years. However, none was more inappropriate than never revealing the truth that I desperately needed Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Praise God for His grace and mercy!
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.