3 Ways the Gospel Informs Christian Education
There is a great need to return to the Gospel in our modern Christian culture. There has been a confusion in our current context between Christian principles (or what would have been called “law” in the Bible) and the Gospel. Christian principles are moral standards gleaned from what Christianity teaches, but are stripped from the fundamental elements of the Gospel. The American church often operates on socially acceptable principles based on the Bible instead of actually living the less-popular, counter-cultural lives of grace and holiness that Christ dies to bring us. Much of what we call Christian education has adopted similar principles and stripped “Christian” from the Christ it is supposed to represent. The more I am surrounded by people and seek to live a Gospel-centered life, the more I see that the Gospel must inform our lives. The Gospel must inform my role has husband, father, friend, and neighbor. Christian education is no different. The Gospel must affect Christian education. Here are 3 ways the Gospel informs Christian Education:
1. The Gospel Informs Christian Education by Making Christ the Foundation
The Gospel saturates the whole of the Scriptures. At the center of the Gospel is the person of Jesus Christ. There is no “good news” without the work of Christ on our behalf to address the “bad news” of our need and sin. Therefore, the Gospel proclaims that Christ is our foundation. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Christian Education must work diligently to keep Christ as the foundation. It is easy in an educational, intellectual environment to make other things foundational. Good things. Things that we all want to our students and children, but things nonetheless that do not make a sustainable foundation. Only Christ and His Word can hold up against the storms of life as a sure foundation (Matthew 7:24-27). Christian Education and Educators must be informed by the Gospel by making Christ the only foundation.
2. The Gospel Informs Christian Education by Making Grace Essential
The Gospel not only shows us where we ought to begin, it gives us light for the path we are to walk. We are not left with a foundation only to figure the rest out on our own. At every turn and with every step we are affected by His grace. Christian Education and Educators have a responsibility to model the grace of Christ to students, family, and the community. There is nothing that can be called “Christian” that has not been called to fulfill the Great Commission. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 says,
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciles us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.”
Christian Education is about extending and fulfilling the call of Christ to His people to be used as ministers of His grace in the lives of others. Christian Education is not exempt from this calling simply because we also want to see students learn and grow in understanding. We must allow the Gospel to shift our focus and inform us by making grace essential in our education.
3. The Gospel Informs Christian Education by Making Success Subordinate to Growth
The Gospel is good news for us because it is not dependent on us. True, there are standards of holiness. There are commands ought to follow. As God’s children, we are to be obedient to our Father. But our acceptance is not based on our performance. We are accepted because of Christ and not by our own merit. It is counter-productive to teach children the Gospel in church and at home, telling them how much God loves them despite what they do and then send them to school where they are generally only judged by their performance. Success in Christian Education must go far beyond simply who can make the grade. Walking with sinners as they grow and learn is a long process where we will encounter people who can conform quickly to certain structures and others who cannot. The Gospel proclaims that they all have value and should feel the love of their Father despite their performance. The Gospel informs Christian Education by making performance-based success subordinate to growth in grace.