2005-11-03 - Flash Cards
Phil 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel (NIV)
When we were all young, we started learning basic mathematics. First we learned to count. Then, when we were comfortable with numbers, we were moved on to addition. The we learned subtraction, multiplication and division in turn. Most of us moved on, or will move on to algebra and some higher math. I got into some fairly complex levels of math. Others I know went on even further, into the subject receiving degrees in higher mathematics.
Every step along the way the way the topics built one upon another. Squares and square roots are reverse mathematical operations. The order in which operations are performed can be critical to getting the right answer. There are rules and structures that keep our system of mathematics in order. Rules are added and changed as new facets are added to the topic, allowing for subtracting larger numbers from smaller numbers, eventually taking negative square roots and even more abstract ideas. But it all comes back to the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
To help youngsters sharpen these skills, parents and teachers will often employ flash cards. Most of us remember them. Some of us remember them as elements of torture. But we all survived them. A card with a math problem clearly displayed on the front of the card is shown to a child. The answer is printed on the back. The goal is to get the answer right as quickly as possible. My brother and I competed against each other to see who would get the most cards. I didn't always fair as well, but it made me work harder.
The point is that these operations had to become automatic, to do well going forward. If a student is trying to learn algebra and they are still struggling with basic math, they are at a severe disadvantage. Likewise, to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, we must learn about the gospel of Christ. I knew young men, new Christians, so full of excitement over their salvation, they were ready to get into fist fights over the gospel. We all, undoubtedly, needed correction on some idea or other that we had at that time in our lives. We had to learn the basics and build, stone upon stone, precept upon precept, until our faith became a cohesive structure. These basic ideas are the flash cards of our faith: Love the Lord God above all else, and love your neighbor as yourself, etc. They build on each other like mathematical operations.
Do we ever stop learning? Ask Billy Graham if he is still learning. I bet the answer is yes. We are imperfect, finite beings. Even in Heaven, we will sit at the feet of Jesus and be taught. What a day that will be. Throughout the process, never despise the flash cards in your life. The fundamental elements of faith do not change, just as addition never changes. Once the foundation of faith is laid in a coherent, cohesive way, the house above it can be built. And we will all stand firm together contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.