The Freshmen

This morning, I was watching Fox News and there was a story on about how the folks entering school at Chapel Hill Academy no longer want to be called “freshmen.” Apparently, among other reasons, it differentiates them as “newbies” and I assume that they could be the targets of freshman pranks as is the tradition at so many other schools around the country. Likewise, women are offended that the word “freshman” seems to reflect a gender bias and everybody seems to agree that “fresh person” just doesn’t seem to cut it.

One journalist jokingly indicated that maybe we should use the term “first graders” to identify those people who are spending their first year at Chapel Hill – of course, that met with swift criticism because it sounded degrading. But, in fact, that is what the incoming class is – first graders…

Lately, there seems to be so much consternation about what people are called. There is such an inclination to be politically correct that we have lost some common sense in the process. Remember several years ago there was such a big stir about the word “sophomore.” That’s because we have the word “sophomoric” – something that is lame, immature, etc. And why would anyone in their second year of college, or high school for that matter, want to be thought of an anything other than totally knowledgable and having it all together? Go figure…

Honestly, there are times in my life, even today, when I acknowledge that I am not a subject matter expert in something that I think I should know quite a bit about. In fact, I may not even be a freshman or sophomore in the field. And you know what? There’s no shame in that. After all, the amount of knowledge in the world is doubling every 18 months and it is impossible, even now, for people to have a deep understanding of a wide range of topics – it just isn’t humanly possible.

Of course, that means that we should want to depend on each other even more than before and that is scary to some of us. Because people like their independence and fear being “co-dependent.” While I agree that being co-dependent is an illness, there is nothing wrong with being “inter-dependent” – meaning that we choose to work with others to better the outcomes for all parties involved. In other words, everybody wins, and I just love it when that happens.

The Bible uses a number of words to describe those who are young – and many times, it refers to people who are young in the faith. For example, the Greek word “teknia” refers to young children who have some ability to move around on their own, but not much. And then there is the word “pedia” which refers more to someone who is an infant and can’t do things for themselves. In fact, this is where our word “pediatric” comes from.

Back in the early days of the New Testament, it wasn’t a crime to be a child, or a freshman. Both Paul and John speak with compassion and love for those who are young and it is not uncommon to read words such as “My dear children” when referring to those who were new to the faith. It was also common for people to refer to their “spiritual children” as sons and daughters. Paul, in his letter to Philemon, actually lets his friend know that Philemon owes his very “life” to Paul for introducing him to Christ.

So I am having something of a difficult time getting amped up about the “freshmen” at Chapel Hill. Things have gone just a little too far. Not too long ago there was a story that the professors at Wharton, arguably one of the finest business schools in the country, were being asked to eliminate the use of red ink to grade papers because it was too stressful for the students. Really? Get a life… These are the future leaders of our country – and they can’t handle a little red ink? We’re in deep trouble…

The verse tonight reflects the idea that any of us who have come to faith in Jesus Christ have at some point been “babies” or “teknia” or “infants” or small children. In fact, in order to come to a knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we had to be “born again” – I wonder what the liberal folks would have us call that…

From 1Pet. 2:2, we are told, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…” Frankly, I don’t see that as condescending or mean spirited. I think Peter was providing a framework for learning and growth. In other words, get a solid foundation and then grow from there. My encouragement this evening is for you to drink your milk – whatever field that may be in – and commit to being a lifelong learner. My prayer is that God will honor your desire to chew solid food some day – but in the meantime, please remember that spiritual milk is the drink of eternal champions. Have a great day in The Lord, grace and peace,

Comments (1)

  • Roger Pope says:

    You are ‘right on’ with this analysis of today and 2000 years ago. Mankind today is too sensitive. They should have gone to boot camp in the military. The word freshman would have been appreciated. 🙂

 
 
 
 

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