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Christian Education and the Common Good

You have to be a hermit today to not see the divisions that exist in many segments of our society. These divisions cross cultural, racial, ethnic, and religious boundaries. But common to most people within these segments is a desire to do good, for their lives to have meaning.

Enter Christian education. What is its role? At CRCS, when we meet with and take a family on a tour, there is one statement that they will always hear: “We teach students that they are created by God for a purpose, that He sent His Son to redeem them for this purpose, and that He desires them to dedicate their lives in seeking out and serving Him in this purpose.” You won’t find that on our website anywhere. It is simply a core summary of what our mission and vision is for our school.

In pursuing this, we (and, of course, Christian educators at large) have come to recognize that what we do with our students has far reaching impacts beyond our school’s walls. These impacts speak to the good, to the meaning that people seek. They speak to the common good. By common good, we are talking about the ripple effect that living a Christ-like life can have on others. It is the impact that is described in the Book of Proverbs, “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;  when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy”. When people live by and honor God with their lives, those around them also reap the benefit.

This can be illustrated by the story of William Wilberforce. He was a young Christian man who was elected a Member of Parliament in England in the 1800s. (The movie Amazing Grace is a wonderful depiction of his life.) He struggled with his role as a politician and as a Christian. Mentored by his pastor, John Newton (who was a slave-ship captain who later also became a Christian), Wilberforce dedicated his life to ending the slave trade in the British Empire. It is safe to say that his efforts along with other endeavors he pursued had a tremendous impact on the common good. And…MANY around him reaped tremendous benefits, to say the least. And these benefits went beyond the freeing of enslaved human beings. They also freed those whose hearts and minds were enslaved in the culture of the time.

So here is the question: how many young men and women with the potential of a William Wilberforce are sitting in a Christian school classroom today? That is for God to know. What is certain is that, within the arena of Christian education, we have the great opportunity to raise up young men and women whose impact on the common good in society can be just as significant as that of William Wilberforce. It may not be of the same magnitude as eliminating the slave trade. But, it can be as significant, if not greater, in its effect on the hearts and minds of those in their personal and extended circles of influence. As it was once said, “How many seeds are in an apple? That is easily counted. How many apples are in a seed? Only God knows.” We see each student not as an apple, but as an apple seed, available to be used by God for HIS infinite good.

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