Monday, April 26, 2010

Further thoughts on a recent question [Megan]

            I was recently asked about the Christian Worldview class I am co-teaching with Jay Watts each week at a home-school co-op in Peachtree City, Ga. We’ve had a few questions about curriculum for the class, what kinds of environments the class could be taught in, and how it might be incorporated into public schools. The first two questions have fairly straightforward answers, though a set “curriculum” is a work in progress. As for the question concerning public schools, a Christian Worldview class isn’t something we’re going to see on the agenda anytime soon.

            But upon further reflection, I wanted to post a few more thoughts here in answer to that question. How do we get this “curriculum,” so to speak, into public schools? Or better yet — into the public square?

            We begin by training up our children and youth with a firm grasp of truth and an intact and working Christian worldview. From birth. Christianity has basic tenets that even the youngest of us can understand.

            One very basic example deals with a huge question, one of the questions we at LTI both answer and defend. What makes human beings valuable?

            Imagine a world in which children navigate the ins and outs of every day with the understanding that humans are inherently valuable because they are made in God’s image.

When properly understood, such a view is a permeating force that touches every interaction, not the least of which is the way we view and treat unborn human beings. Young boys would understand why it’s wrong to think their value rests in who is the toughest kid on the playground, at least when it manifests itself in beating up the opposition. And young girls would understand that value does not rest in hair, makeup and a Cosmo body. Such a view makes sense of why it’s wrong for young girls to hide behind layers of makeup and strive to cover as little of themselves as possible.

            The world will not come to a cataclysmic end (seemingly so, anyway), when one’s boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with them, or when an exam is returned with a “C” instead of an “A.”

            Please understand, I am not saying that hair and makeup are evil (I enjoy feeling like I look nice), or that we shouldn’t strive for the highest grade. Nor am I saying we should never feel disappointment over circumstances. But for the young person who understands that their true value lies in Christ, there is a dramatic perspective-shift that takes place, especially in terms of how other human beings should be viewed and treated, what suffering really is, wisdom in decision-making… The list is endless.

            What does it look like to train your child up in this way? I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have a few ideas from what I’ve learned in bringing up my own daughter, and what I’ve seen as I’ve worked with the teenagers in class.

            My daughter just turned 4. When asked what kind of thing she is, her automatic response is “I’m a person, made in the image of God.”  I don’t actually think that she fully understands what that means, but my hope is that she’ll grow to.

When opportunities arise, she is reminded of what makes a person valuable — and they arise more often than you may suspect. A person without legs is still valuable, because he or she was made in God’s image. A person unable to see or speak is still valuable, because he or she is made in God’s image. We shouldn’t speak unkindly to another person, because he or she is made in God’s image, and when you tear that person down with your words, you’re tearing into the image of his or her Creator.

            And on the flip side of the same coin, we should portray that image appropriately. She should obey Mommy and Daddy, who in turn should obey their authority — and understand that there are consequences — for her, and for us — for disobedience. We should choose healthy foods to eat and activities to do to maintain our bodies. We should strive to overcome challenges, to build up God’s image in ourselves and in others, to be more like Jesus (In the words of my little girl’s favorite children’s book series Fancy Nancy, “That’s fancy for sanctification.”)

            As for the teens we’re working with, the greatest strides I’ve seen in them come from expecting great things from them. Several of the students are challenged by the class because it forces them to leave scratching their heads, and — more often than not — frustrated over the depth (and height) of the material. I’m often reminded of the thought-provoking and often convicting questions Jesus asked his disciples. As if he didn’t know the answers! Ha! But he did know that his questions tapped into the heart of the issue(s), and that his disciples — by being challenged to grow in wisdom themselves — would learn lasting, gut-level lessons.

I think we do something very similar when we ask the students questions like, “How does the fact that God is immutable (unchanging) affect you on a personal level?”

            The exciting part is that such questions lead into enlightening conversations (and further though-provoking questions) on how God’s immutability assures us we can find ultimate rest and satisfaction in Him, and makes sense of why satisfaction in worldly things (such as the latest fashion trend) is shallow and short-lived. Another Christian worldview truth test-driven and road-ready as these students prepare to navigate the world. Another small battle won.


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