In a recent New York Times article, two Jewish families sued to have prayers to Jesus stopped in the public school setting. Strange as it may sound, I am in sympathy with these Jewish families—if my family were in a setting in which Christian education was not available and my kids were in a public school, I would not want them to participate in prayers to other gods.
This situation points out the legal limitations of the public school in regard to issues of nurturing students’ faith in God as revealed through Jesus Christ. As a former teacher and administrator in public schools I felt that to be obedient to my employer and the laws of the land, I could not pray publicly or engage students with my personal faith. Over time, however, I found this limitation personally untenable, and my frustration grew because of not being able to proclaim God as sovereign, to point to him as creator, and to point to the Bible as the source of truth and the basis for values. To constantly hit the mute button instead of naturally expressing my faith in the classroom was not something I could handle. How can a believing teacher not connect learning about the wonders of creation with its Source? How can one not shout about the mighty acts of God in creation and in redeeming my life and others? How can I not speak when I have such a great story to share?
Many parents have convinced themselves that as long as their child is with a Christian teacher in a public school, things will be fine. This is true only to a degree. As passionate as I was about my faith, I felt conflicted by my desire to not violate the separation of church and state in my public school settings. So therefore I did not, and could not, take advantage of those teachable moments with students and the opportunities to connect key ideas together, which I was free to do in a Christian school setting. I knew and accepted the circumstances that I was hired under, and as time went by I grew more and more uncomfortable because I felt like I had made a choice that forced me to deny my desire to be what I am—a witness of Jesus Christ.
So in view of the contrast between the frustrations of being a Christian teacher in a restrictive educational setting and then later being able to teach freely in a Christian school, here are a dozen reasons why I appreciate Christian education:
- Teaching students the joy and pleasure to be found in glorifying God by knowing him and enjoying him both now and forever.
- Showing the sovereignty of God over all things, understanding creation, man, and God in proper relationship—that there is no division between sacred and secular and seeing that all things belong to God.
- Helping kids understand how all things were created and broken but are now being redeemed and restored through Jesus Christ.
- Asking truly essential questions, discussing the difficult questions of life—no holds barred, no areas off limit, being able to relate it to the Source of Truth.
- Offering a holistic educational experience—no divorcing of body and soul, mind and spirit.
- Helping students understand that our desire for excellence in thought and behavior is motivated by a desire to please God, not just by economic or citizenship reasons.
- Applying a foundational knowledge of the Bible and faith practices together across all disciplines and aspects of life.
- Modeling faith for kids and working together with others who strive to do the same.
- Helping students see all of life as worship—and vocation as calling to serve God with excellence.
- Articulating a God-centered perspective on success versus human striving for excellence and a me-centered purpose for fulfillment in life.
- Examining all learning from multiple angles in the light of God’s Word versus only politically correct angles.
- Teaching students to memorize and engraft God’s Word into their hearts and lives.