Saturday, September 5, 2015

God Is Still In My (Public) School

The school year resumes here in Michigan this coming week.  And among all the groans of readjusting bedtimes, early rising, and (gasp) homework...the barely contained and slightly muffled exclamations of parental glee can be heard from the front porches of house after house as the bus door closes and the diesel engine whisks the little darlings away for the next 7 hours.

And as those students of all ages crash through the front doors into the halls of learning, with enough commotion at times to convince us that a band of Viking warriors has descended and stormed the building like some ancient fortress, I am pleased to see that God is making His return to the places of public education this fall.

Now here you may be tempted to leave this posting and quickly jump over to your Fox News or CNN or MSNBC or Twitter account or wherever you get your daily dose of real world happenings to see if perchance you have missed the notification that some new law has been passed or court ruling handed down regarding religious practices in state sponsored institutions of learning.  And, depending on your personal convictions, this thought may give you great joy or cause for some concern.  But slow down for a minute, hold off on your Google search, and just follow my thinking for a few sentences more.

No, there is not a news item you have missed.  What you may have not realized, however, is that while the evangelical Christian community has often bemoaned the fact that God has been "kicked out of our schools", He never really went anywhere at all.

"Oh sure" you are thinking..."of course He is still TECHNICALLY there.  He is everywhere, so no one could really kick Him out of the school."

While I give you high marks on the theological interpretation of "omnipresence" that has very little to do with my point here.

Those who are afraid we've removed God from education remind me of those who say the Church is a building where people gather to worship.  As if the buildings we build and the purposes we say they serve or do not serve are what make all the difference in where we find God or His people.  It simply isn't the case.

I tell you God is making His return to all the places of learning this fall because of the many students, teachers, and administrators who carry Him with them as they once again fill those halls, classrooms, and offices for day after day and week after week.
The Bible insists Jesus Christ is the flesh of God Almighty (I John 1:14) and the Church-that is those who posses a relationship with Christ-are His body here on earth (I Corinthians 12:27).  
If this be true, and it is, then Jesus walks through the doors of our schools every time a person who possesses Him does so.

Jesus enters public schools whenever students or staff members who possess Him do so.  This is incarnation.
                            TWEET THIS

In our local school districts I have the pleasure of knowing several teachers, staff, administrators, and students who take their relationship with Christ to school with them every day.

I've prayed with them, counseled them, and watched them live out their relationship with Him in the context of their daily interactions with others. I've seen them exude the essence of grace and love to those they interact with. I've listened as they've wrestled with how to best shine as lights in sometimes dark and complicated situations.

Our area pastors can be seen routinely in the lives of our local school districts. We are coaches, Bible study leaders, school board members, committee participants, and many other roles people may not even recognize.

These believers are not covert agents sent from the home base of the church to spy on or steal away combative personnel.  This is not a war against public schools.  We aren't sending our troops to do battle in enemy territory.  Instead, the Bible instructs us that we are always to be in the world, just not of it.  So staff and students alike who go forth day after day in a school environment not necessarily in line with Biblical principles are simply doing what Jesus sent the original disciples to do: go shine as lights in a dark world. 

This is not to say that students or staff who are involved in educational institutions specifically dedicated to a Christian worldview are not doing their part, as well.  In fact, they too are finding ways to engage and interact with those Jesus loves.  The environment simply has a different feel.  But I suppose it is safe to say (having participated in both types of education) that the percentages are higher in public school of people who know little about our Savior.

The point is...we are all called to be Christ wherever we are. And, as long as there are those who rightly name the name of Christ in the local halls of learning, Jesus Himself is there.

He may not be prayed to by the masses at the start of the school day.  Copies of His word may not necessarily be found in every classroom or library.  There may be many who choose to ignore Him altogether. But, make no mistake about it, He is there.

He is there in the student who chooses to speak kindly to those so many others marginalize and ignore.  He is there in the teacher whose compassionate love for even the most difficult of pupils is motivated by her knowledge of the great love God has bestowed on her. He is there in the administrator whose character and trustworthiness is a direct result of daily communion with Christ. He is there in the pastor who simply shows up for lunch or mentoring time and invests in the lives of struggling students. He is there in the life of a young girl who chooses to share her faith with her classmates and encourage them to get to know Him better. He is there in the staff member who works day in and out with the heart of a servant modeled after the greatest Servant of all.

And yes, little by little, the light shines in the darkness. Sometimes the darkness does not understand it, but the light shines on. And when those walking in darkness come to see that great light and begin to wonder at it...they, too, may desire that the light begin to shine in them. And thus the darkness is dispelled all the more.

This is incarnation.  The fleshliness of God first brought to this earth in Christ himself and now lived out continually through His body. the doors to the school year swing open this fall, take heart...Jesus is there. He never left. -- TWEET THIS