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The Savior of Education

As the school year begins, one might well ask the reason for the hubbub, traffic, and colossal expenditure. If there was a grand societal vision, no effort would be too great to secure our children and capture their hearts to join us in pursuing this vision. If we believed in God, his ruling Son and kingdom, man as his noble image-bearer, value in hard work, justice blind to all but divine truth and revealed righteousness, then drain the national coffers to pursue this vision. Alas, our nation has no grand vision, unless one considers the grooming of children for extreme narcissism and technocratic dependence a vision worthy of being pursued.

The Christian faith espouses the grand vision for man and society, and our educational pursuits must aim squarely at it – Jesus Christ glorified, his name honored, his cross our boast, his service our privilege, his word our guide. Our grand vision is more than for our children to read and write, think and speak, as good as these goals are and as distinguishing as they will prove to be in our culture of glorified ignorance. Our vision is Jesus Christ, his person and work, his glory and kingdom, and our life with him forever. Anything less cannot fulfill our voluntary surrender to him and utter reliance upon his saving strength. All the fruits of the best education unless dedicated to him will prove hollow, preparatory for a life of rebellion and dissatisfaction rather than one of loving, willing service to our Lord.

Because our vision is so vastly different from the world’s, do not expect the world to applaud self-consciously Christ-centered education. It cannot, for Jesus Christ slays the dragon of educational rebellion against him. One cannot boast in man’s wisdom and in Christ’s cross. The gospel does not reverence Athens or Rome or build upon them as sufficient foundations for truth and knowledge. Christ Jesus declares all these foolish. He was born in a stable, to humble man’s pride and to reveal that truth and wisdom are not found in the halls of man but in Him.

We do not believe this as we should, else we would use all available time and expend all energy to discover his unsearchable riches. Let our education come fully into the blazing light that is in Jesus Christ. Let each day begin with fervent prayer for the illumination of his Spirit. Let each subject be seen in its connection to him, his saving work, his rescuing grace, his new creation. If we study math or science, then we worship him as Creator and Designer, not impersonal processes. History is the study of his mighty works in time and space, his redeeming this fallen world through sinful men and women, but also on the trajectory of exposing the folly of man’s wisdom and the necessity of his. If trades and technology are learned, we are training our minds and hands to do him service, so that we do our work heartily unto him. When literature, then we are looking for his good and beauty, the reality of our warfare with sin, and redemption in the end, through him. Education is thus saved by coming humbly before Jesus Christ.

All legitimate coming to him involves three things. First, personal ability to save, illumine, and cure oneself must be rejected. The human mind is not a sufficient judge of truth, for man is fallen, self-willed and self-oriented. Our Lord’s discipleship call is always “deny yourself.” We must ask him to subdue our rebellion and scatter our blindness – and our children’s. Christian education is a new and heavenly orientation away from sin and self, toward Jesus Christ and grace. It consists of more than tests and grades, but in knowledge and understanding leading to faith and godliness.

But, second, saving faith as applied to education means that we must make a committal to Jesus Christ. He is the only light and wisdom. There is no perfect curriculum that will save our children. Curriculum is valuable to the degree that it builds upon this committal – not the mind of man, but the mind of Christ, not a vision of man and his technocratic utopias but of Christ and his humble kingdom of peace and love, hard work, quiet, and worship. It is perhaps the greatest evil of the school day of millions of children that there is no teacher-led committal of the day and of the lessons to Jesus Christ. This is one of our most ubiquitous forms of child abuse – teaching the young that they do not need to commit to Jesus Christ to find life and understanding, to find the path of truth, to understand the world in which they live and to understand themselves. No wonder the most highly educated are often the most open to the bizarre, the superstitious, and the destructive. Education without Christ enslaves men more to themselves.

Educational salvation depends, third, upon surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is astounding how easily we have been deceived that his lordship is limited to the soul and our private lives. Jesus Christ is Lord of all. This is the constant message of Scripture. We once believed this in education, from the home to Harvard. No more. And we have lost truth, a healthy vision for life and society, purpose beyond personal gratification. Because he is Lord, if we do not bow to him, we shall soon find ourselves lost in the labyrinth of our pride – looking for light but finding only darkness. It is one of the greatest proofs of his lordship that without him, truth and meaning are lost, morality soon follows, and with this the loss of personal dignity, self-control, and man himself.

Christians do not educate for the same reasons, goals, or motives as the world. Faith and love for Jesus Christ color all we do. Soon, very soon, we shall stand before him and give an account. He will not gaze upon our diplomas and degrees, but upon our hearts and lives. Christian education aims here – hearts that believe in him, minds illuminated by his word, and lives transformed by his truth applied everywhere. Christian education aims for our standing justified by faith in Jesus Christ, cleansed by his blood, and hands full of works devoted to him. May the Lord strengthen us for the task! Only Christ-centered education has a future. Its future hope is its present power – Christ Jesus himself.

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