We are into the first week of school here in the Benson house. So far, so good. I am sad that our summer is over, but time does march on. My oldest is into his second year of college. Time, indeed, does march on.
I remember when he was starting to kindergarten. As a pastor’s child, we just assumed he should go to a Christian school. We looked into all the “best” ones in town, and one after one, we crossed them off our list. We found them to be just so very… separate. The Lord began to impress upon us how we are supposed to be salt and light in this dark and dying world and how could we do that if we were always separating ourselves from it? Sometimes when you work in ministry, it’s hard to cultivate relationships outside of church. I know plenty of ministers who don’t know a single lost person.
So we made the decision to put our kids in public school. I’m not slamming people that decide otherwise. Those who home school or decide on Christian schools for their kids do so for many reasons. I do, however, think when we make those decisions we are deciding, by default, to separate ourselves from a part of the world, regardless of our motivation.
My daughter would love to join a home school co-operative. She finds going to public high school a real challenge. As a child of the light, she feels the darkness brush up against her in the halls and classrooms. (If, as a Christian, you have ever found yourself in a decidedly non-Christian environment, you know the feeling I am talking about.)
She would love to be able to spend more of her time with her church friends who encourage her and edify her rather than among school kids far from Christ whom she is called to serve and lead. She is called to be among those who need what she has in Jesus. Those halls and classrooms are her mission field.
As a parent, I know for her to be home schooled or go to a private Christian school would be safer. I could put that protection up for her. I could, but God does not call us to a safe life, not really. You’d be hard pressed to find scripture that supports that idea. Actually the opposite is true. It tells us to go. Telling us to go into the world and be salt and light means we do have to actually go into the world. It’s not always safe there, but we cannot answer the call of the Great Commission from the safety of our Christian bubble. Our children can’t, either.
My job is to make sure she’s properly equipped to be in the world. I can’t just push her out the door and say, “Good luck with all that saving the world stuff!” She needs to know how to put on the full armor of God first. (Ephesians 6:10-18) The fight she faces is not really a physical one at all, but a spiritual one.
The helmet of salvation to remind her whose she is and that she is secure. The breastplate of righteousness to guard her heart as criticisms come at her for the different way she lives her life. The belt of truth to measure against ideas that are not truth. Her feet fit with the readiness of the gospel of peace to calm her and to share with others. The shield of faith to fend off attacks from the evil one.
Only when our children are fully dressed in that armor are they prepared to go into the world to make a difference. We can keep them safely locked inside our insulated Christian world, but that’s not how any of us came to be followers of Christ. Someone, sometime, had to venture out and come get us. It wasn’t safe, it was risky, but they did it for us.
If we want to raise up the next generation of Great Commission followers, we have to worry less about protecting them from the world, and concern ourselves more with preparing them for it.