in the world, not of the world

Romans 12:1,2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

John 17:14,15 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.

1 John 2:9-11 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Matthew 5:14-15 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

So what I’m wondering and discussed a bit last night was this – our kids and public versus private schools. Then I went and read this from Tina… which got me thinking more. There is a very clear view out there in Christianity that the public school system has failed us and we shouldn’t have our kids part of it. Some may choose home-schooling – others may choose private Christian schools (we have “academies” around here).

I have two points I’d like to throw out:

  • Aren’t we called to be “be in the world but not of it”? I thought the verse this was quoting was that clear, but at least I can’t find a translation that says it exactly like that but I’m guessing the above two verses are it. Shouldn’t we be “in the schools” but not “of the schools”? Meaning not be blindly led around and follow the ways and paths others take there.
  • Aren’t we also called to be a light to the world? I don’t we ourselves are The Light – that’s so a Jesus Christ thing. I couldn’t find a specific verse that said this, but take a look at the last two verses above for my closest guesses. But aren’t we called to be like little Christs to show the way to Jesus through our lives? Now I know a lot of people feel like the school system is only getting worse, but how exactly will it get better when we pull our kids out of it? Might a little light in there help?

I will concede that the issue with this and what seems to be the main counterpoint is am I willing to “sacrifice” my children for those beliefs? Well, no I’m not but sheesh that sure seems like some divisive words there in my opinion. My daughter is only in Kindergarten so we’re currently going to “just see how it goes”. We’ve definitely talked about our kids going to a private school. If my kid(s) experienced some sort of persecution or something in the schools over their beliefs, we will talk about it more then. I guess I’m optimistic a bit that this won’t become an issue. We’ll see.

But what seems to me is that we as Christians can come across too easily as quick to judge, condemn and pull in this regard. I don’t know – I really haven’t had this become an issue for us yet but we do know a handful that have (and I really don’t believe at all they were judgmental and condemning – they had a bunch of other reasons if I recall correctly).

Anyone else care to comment? Jim – you have older kids, right?

3/11/08 UPDATE: read Tina’s part II – much more thought out that me…

3/12/08 UPDATE: Check out this post They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our …? – it exemplifies the underpinning to my concerns..


7 responses to “in the world, not of the world

  1. Hey Chris,

    The only problem I have with public schools and kids is that, in my opinion, putting the kids in the school system has a tendency to get them indoctrinated into the school system agenda before they’ve had time to fully develop and internalize their own (or your) world view. I guess it’s more complicated than it seems on the surface. Putting our kids in school is just one part of buying into how the world says you do life. Putting our kids in Christian school, is just us making a “safer” version of the world’s way. It’s still doing it according to the pattern of the world. Of course this is all just my opinion, but once you subscribe to a system I think you kind of become “of” it, and I think that’s what Jesus didn’t want us to do.

    Having said that, I do think that it is possible, really really difficult but admittedly possible, to participate in these systems and not become “of” them.

  2. Yeah I see what you mean. It’s the “safer” version of everything life that really bugs me…. but that’s another post or something.

    What really concerns me is not seeing when this “agenda” gets applied to my children – and past when we can do anything about it. I’m sure our concerns will probably increase as they start getting closer to the completely-crazy years of middle school (or junior high – depending on where you live).

    What says you about home-schooling? That isn’t the pattern of the world…. I don’t think every family is really equipped or built to do this as well as others though (but that’s just from the view of myself and my wife on that topic).

  3. Regarding teaching kids at home: I think God has equipped every family to instruct its young in godly character and to teach them everything that they need to know. I think our paradigm is that they need to know the things that the government says they need to know, but the truth is something else. I think another paradigm we have is that kids have to be “taught” in order for them to learn, but really what I have found is that just exposing them to life and giving them a good example to follow causes them to learn — as long as we don’t shut down that drive to learn.

    My husband and I were talking about this today; rote learning forces all kids into the same box when we are all wired differently. I have a daughter who is a born reader and writer. But she is very intuitive and not concrete. That part of her would be played down in a traditional school setting. I have a son who is very outdoors-oriented and doesn’t learn in traditional ways. He would not do well in the traditional school setting. I have another son whose internal time-clock runs much slower than most others. He is seven and had no desire to learn how to read until just a few months ago. If I had pushed him, he may have been like many late bloomers whose desire to read was completely snuffed out of them because they were pushed. As it is, he spontaneously began reading a few months ago and didn’t even realize he was doing it – he just started reading billboards. We told him he was reading and he was like, huh? And we said, go ahead, read that one. And he did, and was so excited. Now we pass by his room and see him lying on the bed reading books about arachnids and dinosaurs. He’s reading at a 4th/5th grade level right out of the gate. And we didn’t “teach” him how to do this, he learned by osmosis. And that’s how I think learning happens if we don’t screw it up or try to rush it. It’s taken me probably ten years to get to this level of understanding about how the kids learn, and I know I have a long way to go. But I do know that what it takes is an interested, caring, loving, full time parent, not a teaching certificate. We are born to learn, just look at how much a baby learns in the first year or two of life, all on his own without interference.

    Well, that’s more than you ever asked for. Obviously this is a subject about which I am passionate. -t

  4. Chris\Tina –

    We we have four children ages 5-10. The oldest are being home schooled. Tina is right on about the freedom of being able to teach your kids that fits them best. Home schooling is a ministry. I’m not about to say every Christian family is called to do it. However, do many Christian families seek God’s calling on it?

    Chris also has a point about being a light to the world. My wife and I were just talking about this the other day. Our 10 year old is light-years ahead of where I was spiritually growing up. I think if he was wanting to make the move back to public school we’d be OK with that as his mission field.

    Great discussion. I can’t remember how I stumbled across it.

  5. I found this through your comment at Kingdom Grace. I’ll go ahead and throw my two cents in (although by the time this posts, they will most certainly have decreased in value, given the way the dollar is going right now!)

    I personally think it’s a bit much to expect our kids to be “salt and light” and to be “in, not of”. Those are concepts for disciples of Christ to work through as they grow and mature, but I think it’s naive to think that most kids are at all spiritually equipped to do that at age 5.

    My impression also (sort of from experience) is that by the time you realize they have been affected (infected?) by the world around them, it’s already quite strong in their lives. I look back on my public school experiences now and am horrified at the things I was exposed to, experienced, and dabbled with. But at the time 1) I didn’t think it was that big a deal, and 2) my parents never knew. They still don’t know 10% of it.

    Our son is 15. He was in public school up until the end of 8th grade. By that point, we couldn’t take it anymore and began homeschooling. (Christian school was not an option for us financially, and our Christian school here is K-8, dumping those kids into the public high school for 9-12 anyway.)

    We now have a 19-month old toddler that we just received through the foster care system. She is permanently placed with us for adoption (already filed, waiting for word that it has been finalized), and we plan on just homeschooling her from the get-go.

    Kids just get way too much “other” influence in school, and I don’t think we can afford to play that down or minimize that in hopes that our child will be John the Baptist in our schools.

    Having said all that, I believe every parent should seek God’s leading in this, and it is a conscience issue. I don’t think every parent must homeschool, although I would highly recommend it on a lot of levels 🙂

    Thanks for letting me share.
    steve 🙂

  6. Let me tell ya – Tiny, Tony and Steve. You’ve given me a lot more to ponder on than I had really hoped for… I definitely need to take more time and consider the consequences as they won’t be just something little for my kids. Not sure still about homeschooling (but that’s another topic) for us, but my wife has kind of always had an interest in enrolling our kids in some sort of Christian school.

    My younger two really have enjoyed the preschool stuff at another church – as has my wife in working as a substitute teacher on occasion. And just last night my oldest daughter (6yrs) mentioned after we prayed that she wants to learn more about God and commented how that over Christmas at church we don’t learn as much about God then – just sing songs. Amazing the things they notice like this and mention several months later.

    thanks for the comments!

    This specifically is what I really like about the whole blogging thing – the discussions and pushing each other in ways we sometimes don’t want but should consider….

  7. I was tempted to make this a separate post, but don’t have time to say more than read this ‘parent’s university’ post that touched very briefly on kids and public school:

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