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Wikipedia Living

February 5th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 12: 1 (NLT)

1 To learn, you must love discipline;
      it is stupid to hate correction.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Our culture is saturated with information.  From a historical standpoint, there is no time period in modern or ancient history where within individuals can attain knowledge at their leisure.  Even when I was growing up, an essay or paper in school meant many hours in the library looking up every reference amidst miles and miles of shelved books.  Now, I am certainly still a believer in books, but these days research has literally been revolutionized by the advent of the internet.

The web offers an answer to any question at any moment in any language.  The only thing slowing us down now is a weak wifi signal.  We tread waters of information as deep as the sea and as broad as our imaginations.  When I have a simple spelling or grammatical question, I simply google it.  When I need a quick scripture reference, BibleGateway is my site.  With the simple movement of my digits, I have unlimited access to unlimited resources.

Pop culture has embraced this phenomenon in a plethora of ways, one being the immense popularity of wikipedia.  Wikipedia is probably the most widely accessed “reference” website.  Millions of times a day, people cite wikipedia as their source of knowledge about this or that.  

The only thing is, though, wikipedia is written by the very people who are accessing it.  Anyone out there can submit their own version of whatever topic they desire.

In other words, the reliability of the information found at wikipedia may be true or it may be as fictitious as my chances of getting drafted in the NBA.  But for whatever reason, that doesn’t seem to stop people from swearing by what they learn from this site.

It’s an issue of sources and understanding the nature of learning.  You see, to really learn, one must receive knowledge from a source that has more knowledge than the learner.  It’s just the basics of the learning process.

If I want to learn how drive, I’m not going to ask my six month old daughter.  Now, if I wanted to learn how to projectile vomit while passing gas and pulling out someone’s hair, then she’s my most reliable source.  At this point, however, navigating a vehicle is just a bit past her skill set.

To learn, one must seek information from another who knows more . . . it’s that simple.  It’s about a process of discipline from credible instructors.  It’s about learning to put the “wikipedias” of life in proper perspective and knowing when only the real library books will suffice . . . spiritually, of course.

That’s why proverbial wisdom screams at our generation: “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.”  It may be easier to seek only the pieces of knowledge that tickle our specific fancies at any given moment, but real knowledge will take time, work, and a submission to someone else’s qualified tutelage.  

Parents.  Pastors.  Teachers.  Mentors.  Godly influences.  Those who have already treaded the path before us.  If we resent correction from these reliable sources, then we are rejecting the opportunity to truly learn.  Hey, at the heart of correction is the reality that something we do is wrong and needs to be corrected.  That means that we have to be willing to admit our shortcomings before we can ever learn the right way.  

Is correction fun?  No.  Is being ignorant an option?  Sure, people choose it everyday.  Are discipline and correction both essential elements of obtaining real knowledge?  Most definitely.

I don’t want to be one who can’t take correction.  Embracing discipline may not be the easiest choice, but it’s the only way to validate one’s search for true knowledge.

Otherwise, we’re just wikipedia life learners who are certain of things that may or may not be correct.  Yikes.


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