Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Be Strong in the Lord and in the Strength of His Power

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.  Ephesians 6:10, NRSV

This is the theme verse for Midwestern Christian Academy for the 2023-24 school term.  We have gathered together just over 200 students for the fall semester of this school year, had our first day of school on August 28, and are ready to bring glory to God, which is our purpose, this school year. 

For the past several years, our theme has focused on the relationships which the Bible's writers describe as happening between people who have found the grace of God through a salvation experience in Jesus, receiving the gospel through the Holy Spirit indwelling within each soul.  Human beings have not yet been able to achieve, through the strength of their own intellect, any kind of recognition of equality or peace in society.  Though we are all, according to the scripture, created in the image of God, the sin that was introduced into the world in the Garden of Eden continues to keep that from happening.  Being a peacemaker is one of the greatest attributes of the Christian gospel, those who are described as such are called "Sons of God."  So it is possible to live by grace through faith, with the Holy Spirit's transforming power.  

This is what we want our students to understand.  

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.  John 17:15

Jesus said that his followers, like himself, were not of the world, but were in the world as a testimony to God's grace and salvation in himself.  In this prayer, before his crucifixion, he asks God to protect them from the evil one.  That's great assurance, but to parents, raising children, and worrying about keeping them from worldly influence until they have a chance to respond to the gospel on their own, knowing that they are being supported by their child's teachers at school, instead of having the moral principles and spiritual values of their home undermined can bring peace of mind.  

The passage which follows Ephesians 6:10 is known to most of us as the Armor of God.  Paul, the author, illustrates standing strong in the Lord by comparing it with a soldier dressed in armor to protect his life while he is in battle.  The spiritual protection that is characterized as armor includes truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the word of God.  Those are all things which are taught here at school, integrated into every subject area, emphasized in Bible classes and chapel, and practiced every day in the school community.  Our educational philosophy and operational principles are based on those principles.  

In our school handbook for parents and students, there are several paragraphs under the heading, "A Christian School is not a Public School."  The basic educational philosophy of a Christian school is based on the belief that God exists, is the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present creator of the universe, and is, by virtue of his very existence, the sustainer of life.  That belief is integrated into every subject we teach, it is practiced in our school community and is the objective basis of our curriculum objectives, instructional pedagogy and expected student outcomes.  We seek solutions to all problems related to students or school through prayer, and expect answers to come from the written word of God. 

We don't create a "bubble" which is intended to isolate our students from the world.  There's not any real way to do that, as those who have attempted to throughout the history of the church have discovered.  Rather, equipping believers to be committed to the biblical principles which instruct their practice of Christian faith, showing them how to handle things which come their way from the world, rather than be tempted by them and fall into sin, is the approach we take.  Students are under our care and supervision seven hours a day.  That provides multiple opportunities to put principles of scripture into practice in a supportive environment. 

The difference is most definitely noticeable.  I can point to specifics from the years I spent teaching in public high schools, including one suburban school, and one alternative high school. From the threshold of academic expectations to the conduct and behavior of students on the campus, the differences are noticeable.  At the alternative high school where I taught, I will never forget the excitement when 40% of the freshman class met or exceeded the grade level benchmarks.  In the Christian schools where I've taught, not getting higher than 85% of students meeting or exceeding benchmarks would be a huge disappointment, with the expectation being all students ranking that high.  

Our achievement, and the community spirit that we have on campus, is due to the spirit's presence here, called upon by those who teach and work here, and by parents who also pray for us, for their students and four our success as a partner in their child's education.  We are not perfect by any means, but we are working to achieve the outcome of bringing Glory to God, and that does make a difference.  There are some studies which show that students who attend Christian school for most, or all, of their grade school years are much more likely to understand church membership as a part of their Christian experience and to become a member who gives back through personal sacrifice.  

Pray in the spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.  Ephesians 6:18, NRSV


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