Being in education for the last 14 years, I have sat in on many in-service opportunities. The majority of which (insert drum roll here), pertained to educational practices. I know, pretty enlightening huh?! In that I’ve spent 12 of my 14 years in Christian education, you would be surprised at how many of those in-services were solely educational practices. What I mean by this, is that there have been few that focused on the central factor of Christian education: Jesus Christ. Biblical integration is a strong focus, yet there is the tendency to compartmentalize scripture to individual subjects, courses, or curriculum. The problem is that we want so badly to be able to “measure” the results of such integration. This is where we error in Christian education. The majority of what and how we implement God’s Word in to our subject matter should be done through the way that we as educators live our lives. How are we presenting the gospel through the means of our autobiography? Are we a living testimony of the gospel? Romans 12:1-2 declares, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Allow me to provide you an example of what I mean. As a part of my job, I am to run academic eligibility reports and determine whether or not students will be put on academic probation (dependent upon their grade point average and other standards). Once this list is determined, I meet with each of the students and discuss the process of what we’ll do to keep them accountable to their academic habits and strive to achieve better grades.
On one such occasion, I met with a student and the meeting went something like this: 1 part academics and 1,000 parts anger, confusion, hurt, tears, and personal tragedy (and none of it had to do with being put on academic probation). This young lady, who is only 14 years old, has been put through more than someone her age should ever have to endure. In short, her parents are divorced, dad is completely out of the picture, mom is caught up in drugs and has brought home multiple boyfriends, has been in 7 or 8 different schools, she’s been physically and emotionally abused, has been homeless, and witnessed other things that no young girl should ever have to see. As she was telling me her story, she became so broken-hearted that the tears just started to flow. In wanting to appear strong, I myself was fighting hard not to sit there and cry with her. The Lord immediately impressed upon me that I didn’t need to fill the void with words. I just needed to be there. After a while, I prayed with her and ended the meeting. As she was leaving my office, the Lord once more spoke loud and clear to my heart and He simply said, “Wrap your arms around her and show her that someone loves her.” Now in the educational world and today’s “walk-on-eggshell” policies, societal trends would tell me not to put a hand on a young lady for fear of being written up for harassment. But when the Lord speaks, I listen. This young lady needed to feel what love is. She needed to be wrapped in an embrace of love, comfort, and confidence. Guess what happened? She grabbed on to me with a grip that I didn’t anticipate. I could immediately tell that this young lady has not been hugged in a long time. But in that moment, God decided to use me to show her that she is loved. Before walking out the door I told her that God loves her so much, and with that she put on the most beautiful smile.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that is what biblical integration is all about. This young lady knows that God desires to have a relationship with her, and despite the circumstances of her life, He’ll stop at nothing to make sure that she is valued and loved. In that moment, God decided to use me to express that to her. Please understand, this is not about tooting my own horn. This is not about me. This is about being used to further God’s kingdom on earth. We need to be willing to be used to show our students and everyone else around us that God is love. We need to make our lives a biographical sketch of who Jesus Christ was and is. That is the gospel. That is an educational perspective that has eternal ramifications, and it is one I’m blessed to be a part of.
There is a crucial aspect of being used by the Lord. That can be found in Ephesians 1:3-10:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
Notice anything peculiar about this portion of scripture? There is nothing in this proclamation that has anything to do with us, except to be the willing recipients of this wonderful gift. It’s not about us or what we can do. It’s all for His glory! In the words of Voddie Baucham, “[In Christ] we’re told that we don’t have to do anything, yet have been given the power to do everything!” What a gift! What freedom! Yet, what amazing responsibility we have to commit our lives to Him in everything that we do. As Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25), we ought to love Him and be willing to sacrifice our lives for the sake of others and the establishment of His love other’s lives.
To those of you in Christian education, those of you who teach in the public sector, those of you that are students, parents, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children, be the living sacrifice that you’ve been called to be. Allow me to leave you with this English lesson. There is one preeminent pronoun that needs to be at the center of all you do: He, and He alone! Glory to God!
Rak Chazak and may the Lord bless you!!