In the spirit of transparency, let me take a moment to share some of my core principles regarding education and edification within both K-12 educational contexts and Christian ministry contexts.
Political Engagement and Diversity based on the Sovereignty of God
Individuals have responsibility for their choices, including their political affiliations (Romans 14:12). Within the ethnically, linguistically, nationally, and culturally diverse Kingdom of God mentioned in Revelation 7:9, there are a variety of customs and ideas that are bound to conflict. While Christians are externally identified as “Children of God” as they engage in peacemaking in a violent and striving world, there are many practices and patterns of sin that Christian must not just refrain from embracing, but explicitly reject.
Just as individuals are responsible to their all powerful Creator, governments and rulers must also do justice and attend to the needs of their constituents because their power is conditionally entrusted by a much Greater Ruler (I Kings 18:18; II Chron. 15:1-4; Matt. 5:13-14; Acts 12:23; I Sam. 15:14-35). Due to the complexity of human beings and intersectionality not just race and gender but also faith, it is both unrealistic and impossible to uphold Benjamin Franklin’s passive ideals of the division of church and state. Eugene Peterson declares the necessity of both accountability in authority in Where Your Treasure Is: Psalms that Summon You from Self to Community, saying “No government is safe from challenge or subversion by the community of faith.” Similarly, Peterson acknowledges that “it is neither possible nor desirable for people of faith to extricate themselves from the political conditions of the day”. Instead of retreating into either comfort-seeking or monastic communities (as even well-intentioned saints of the past have done), Christians have the responsibility to demonstrate lively faith that has the power to bless and reform broken governmental systems. We must demonstrate a fearless pursuit of God in our midst. Christians must have great awe for God who is greater politics, respect for the power of Jesus’s finished work on the cross that destroyed all barriers so that we can build relationships and structures beyond political divisions. If Christians believe that has reconciled all of us to himself through his blood, we will not need to assimilate to one another . Instead, we will rest in Jesus’ sovereignty as Prince of Peace, being reconciled to each other through his ministry of reconciliation.
Jesus as the Path towards Ethnic, Racial, Gender, and Cultural Concilliation
Shortly after creating human beings, God commissioned them as authoritative stewards of the Earth, saying “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Through this ecological, relational, familial, and ultimately, cultural mandate, God’s glory would fill the entire earth through the faithful stewardship of a diverse collection of human beings. Lamentably, through the jealousy and hatred that inspired his brother’s murder, Cain became the first of many individuals enslaved to a pattern of familial, ethnic, and intercultural violence. Throughout centuries, many individuals have warped the gospel of Jesus Christ to rape, murder, steal resources, enslave, abuse, and isolate their ethnic and political rivals, while their peers within the Church remained neutral. Modern Christians have the responsibility of lamenting our collective passivity along with the psalmist in Psalm 106, crying out “We have sinned as our forebears did; we have done wrong and dealt wickedly!” Submitting ourselves again to the enslavement of sin, we have not allowed Jesus who “himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” to reign in our hearts, but we have put ourselves in agreement with ethnic, familial, racial, and gender-based divisions of the enemy.
And yet, God’s purposes cannot be thwarted, nor can the cross be emptied of it’s power. At the beginning of his earthly ministry, Jesus declared “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Jesus came to restore our broken relationship with heavenly and governmental authorities, family, and life itself (as evidenced by his resurrection). We are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. As such, we recognize that “The Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the water covers the sea”, and the Kingdom of God is coming in power to people of “every nation, tribe, people, and language” in whom God in Christ “has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.”
Unity, Organization, and Empowerment of the Body of Christ
In receiving the atoning work of Jesus Christ by faith, individuals become part of “The Body of Christ“, a collection of other Christians that are unified in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and uniquely positioned for God’s purposes on Earth. Following Jesus relationally, we are imitators of Christ, priests of a new covenant in Christ, co-heirs with Christ, and authoritative sons and daughters of God. Through the Holy Spirit and word of God in the bible, we are convicted of sin, sealed, comforted, taught and reminded, empowered, equipped to bear fruit, filled, purified, and attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. As “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” organizations in the Body of Christ should be organized without partiality through gifts of Five-Fold ministry, namely through the unified ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. While fear has kept some from desiring certain gifts of the Spirit like prophecy, by faith Christians can still practice gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. While those in whom these gifts remain dormant (involuntarily, or through fear or unbelief) may not witness as many displays of God’s power here on earth, they will not be excluded from seeing the fullness of God’s glory in Heaven, for “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him”.
In spite of the Church’s imperfections, God has consecrated it as his chosen vessel to change the world, not any other system or organization. As we collectively grow into the full stature of Christ, Jesus promises that the Church will overcome all sin. Jesus has triumphed over all sin and death and declares that his church will be “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless“.
From Ecumenism to Transformational Social Change and Genuine Life in Community
In order to be associated Christ in the eyes of others, organizations in the Body of Christ must genuinely love one another. All individuals and organizations who ascribe to the Christian faith through the Apostles Creed should take seriously Jesus’s commission to make disciples, by genuine love and without coercion. Christian organizations should transparently acknowledge their disagreements while still honoring one another and making every effort to agree.
God promises to powerfully use his Church. The same God who makes crooked paths straight promises to pour out his spirit on sons and daughters who will prophesy. He who promises to reform the Heavens and the Earth is changing the times and seasons and doing a new thing through his Church. As God pours out his spirit on the Earth, his eyes are on those who are ready to receive the new, transformational works he is doing. In order to see a fuller expression of God’s sovereignty on the Earth, denominations and institutions who have been in conflict must ecumenically and strategically partner together in every sector of society. God is raising up spirit-filled individuals who will carry new solutions revealed by the Holy Spirit to every sector of society. These Holy Spirit-led changes in organizations will replicate the justice and righteousness of the Kingdom of Heaven, resulting in dignity and goodwill for believers and unbelievers on the Earth. Through abiding in Christ and being empowered by the Holy Spirit, these solutions will proceed from the Church and become good news to people on the margins. Innovative social solutions are a gift from God, confirming but not replacing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God’s Sovereignty over Educational Institutions
To that end, God the Creator, Jesus who was the word that God spoke in creating all things, and the Holy Spirit that hovered over the formless waters to create life have the ultimate authority as authors of creation to define how human beings are to relate to God’s creation. As created beings, humans do not have the authority or intellectual capacity to negate the things God has revealed about himself, whether through nature, scripture, or the work of the Holy Spirit throughout centuries in reforming societies.
That being said, God promises to be found when we seek him with our whole hearts, God promises to reveal himself to his friends, and Jesus commands his followers to seek God with their hearts, souls, and MINDS! Even if humans intend to sever God from the educational process out of fear of bias, individuals studying a created world will always be studying that which God created. There are countless examples of the ways that Christians have shaped the field of education, from the first universities having evolved from Benedictine monasteries, Jesuit scholars revolutionizing the field of linguistics and humanizing cross-cultural relations, evolution of the modern, Western nonprofit sector in the West emerging from the biblically-based English Poor Laws, and the social work and healthcare efforts of various religious orders. All of these mighty deeds invite human beings into a state of awe and worship that all inquiry-based teaching methods should aspire to produce. And yet, even if humans fail to praise God for all these glorious things, God’s sovereignty cannot be changed by unbelief. Without human participation, even the rocks will cry out to praise him. And even when we seek to disinvite Jesus from our classrooms, our churches, or other kinds of institutions, Jesus as an equal member of the Trinity is both Lord and omnipresent, as he was in the beginning. We don’t have the authority to disinvite him from the study of his creation, even when we try.
Being Consecrated for God’s purposes
As the Israelites finally entered the promised land, the Lord told them, “‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord Who Makes You Holy (Jehovah Mekaddishkem).” This verse in Exodus 31:12-13 demonstrates the importance of abiding in God’s presence as a way of life, and reveals God’s invitation to be sanctified through Christ. Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, believers are empowered to resist sin in ways that displace anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscenity, lies, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, and idolatry. Through this transformation process, a person’s desires are supernaturally rerouted towards God leading to integrity, sexual purity, rightly ordered physical appetites, purity of heart, and various other good fruit. In order to pray more effectively and see God as he is without hindrance, believers should encourage one another towards purity that flows from the heart into every area of life.
This kind of consecration should be no surprise. The act of baptism is meant to signify the death of our automatically self-centered ways of living. When we make the internal decision to put our faith in Jesus and the externally testify that he is our Lord, we have chosen a new kind of life. Jesus sends us his Holy spirit to give us the power to follow him into the fullness of this life, which requires holiness. Our new life requires our complete surrender in obedience to Jesus’ invitation, “Follow Me.” Every moment and every new day, Jesus calls us to continue to follow him. There is no self-promoted personality trait, no job, no sexual practice, no relationship, no family member, no amount of money, or other desire that is excluded from this ongoing lifestyle of surrender, and we are much better off because of it.
Churches should be places where radical forgiveness is routine, where people are safe to confess their sins, but where people are empowered to overcome anything that would keep them in sin and from deeper intimacy with Christ. Jesus defeated sin on the cross and he has invited us to be victorious! Every day, we as Christians zealously apply our entire substance to becoming more like Jesus, who is worthy of all praise.