Friday, September 5, 2008

School Daze

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

-- Proverbs 22:6

A mother escorting her tearful child to the bus stop or classroom. The mom and dad saying goodbye to their uncertain (but hopeful) 18-year-old at the college freshman dorm. They're scenes that were repeated thousands of times last week across the nation as public and private schools opened for the new year.

If you've been a parent long enough, these familiar scenarios might evoke some bittersweet memories and mixed emotions. Letting your child leave the nest - if only for a few hours a day - might have been a difficult step. But it was also a critical milestone. And both you and your child grew up a bit in the process.

But these same steps can lead to dangers - particularly for the children of Christ-followers. That's because many public school systems and secular colleges and universities teach a world view that denies God's truth as it's revealed through the Bible. Think of it as the gospel of relativism. It's a philosophy that promotes the tolerance of dubious viewpoints on what were once steadfast issues. Relativism also shuns the notion of morality and absolute truth because teaching what's right and wrong could denigrate different cultures, religions and belief systems. After all, no one wants their feelings hurt. And shouldn't everyone succeed and aren't all viewpoints equally valid?

(In one extreme case, a school system actually banned its teachers from using red pens for grading papers because the vivid ink was deemed too intimidating for the students!)

This perspective is much more than silly. It can become a serious issue for Christ-followers and their children because God teaches that there indeed are right and wrong ways to live, treat our neighbors and see the world. And the problem is often greater in colleges and universities. In these environments that are largely free from parental guidance, secular classmates and professors often downplay or even mock Christian beliefs. Defying these same professors - the same ones who determine grades and ultimately graduation - is obviously intimidating. It's no wonder that these powerful influences can cause some students to compromise their faith, change their behavior or even turn their back on the Biblical truths that they once embraced.

So what's the answer? Christ-followers of all ages need to resolve to do what's right in all situations and regardless of the consequences. Of course, resisting certain temptations could mean losing some friends along the way. But as the saying goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies?

Second, there's real strength in numbers. It's therefore important for Christ-followers to seek out and surround themselves with others who share their faith and support their viewpoints. And finally, Christ-followers need to know, trust and apply the power of God's Word - the Bible. It's God's proven user's manual for living a successful life.

Let's be clear that there's nothing wrong with education - particularly education that brings about healing and positive change. But as Christ-followers in the classrooms and in the boardrooms, we also need to be agents of change - those who Jesus calls the Light of the World.

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