Over the past few days, the world has seemed even stranger and more foreign than usual. Bitter exchanges over the appointment of a new Supreme Court nominee have reached fever pitch. Whether or not you believe the appointment should go forward, the harsh personal criticism of someone who, by all accounts, seems to be very bright and morally upright underscores how earthly division destroys civility. And, the other night’s bar fight masking as a presidential debate left any of us not longing for the days of the old Jerry Springer show, in which on-air brawls were routine, wondering whether the true loser was the American public.
More than ever, I feel a stranger in this world. This morning, the Lord reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from C. S. Lewis: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” As a follower of Jesus Christ, given a new heart and in the process of being formed with a renewed mind, I feel more and more like a transplanted denizen of this other people, this other place.
If you feel alien, too, that’s normal; at least, it’s normal for you. To see Christianly is to see life from a completely different paradigm. This transformed mental model strikes at the heart of goes why you and I have our children in Christian schooling. There are so many reasons we think we choose Christian education for our children, but one way is central to our deepest longings as redeemed image-bearers of God. Christian education is so much more than a safer or more sheltered school environment, more than a place where parents can raise kids alongside others who are “like-minded” (after all, what constitutes “like-mindedness” is often in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes isn’t rooted in the gospel, the only commonality our mission really promises, the only one that ultimately matters). Rather, it’s a different way of looking at everything, a different vision of life.
For most of us, myself included, our minds have been shaped and molded by our cultures, our educational patterns, and our personal backstories to consider the world in stark contrast from the way God reveals it in Scripture. As a Christian, we’re called not to just accept Christ as personal savior, but to be completely changed. This includes adopting a whole new way of thinking and feeling about the world around us. To be “transformed by the renewing of our minds,” as Romans 12 tells us, means to think God’s thoughts and feel what He feels, but it also means to perceive all of creation in the way He perceives it, the way it truly is, because He is personified Truth and Truth is defined in His essence and being. Truth as He created it to be.
From Hamlet to The Matrix, literature and media tell stories of worlds which are not as they seem and of heroes who delve beyond the distorted veil of brokenness to see things as they really are. These stories resonate with us because they are rooted in reality. What is real, and what our minds and hearts have been trained to see as “real” through the broken lens of the fall of man and our own personal sin, are two very different life visions. When the Holy Spirit rejuvenates our hearts, we are able to see things as they are. Yet, our power to do so doesn’t mean we automatically will. It requires the often-difficult work of sanctification, of study, of subjecting our minds to thinking and formation toward new ways. Many Christians have renewed hearts and old minds, or only partially-transformed minds, perhaps looking at worship and relationships through a new lens, but not the rest of creation around them.
I was this way before I began working at our school. I grew up in a mostly-Christian home and attended public schools throughout my schooling years. I was “taught,” not overtly but by what wasn’t said (i.e., that God’s Word and His Truth spoke to all creation and everything in it), to compartmentalize my faith: that God spoke to how I lived on Sundays, to worship, and how I treated people, and being nice, but that He had nothing to say about Monday through Saturday, about my work life, or my home life, or my interests, or, after I became a lawyer, about the practice of law.
It was only after I came to Grace that I learned that all truth is God’s truth, and that He speaks to everything, because He created it all- worship and relationships, to be sure, but also art and science, math and history, medicine and law, business and politics, and every aspect of human endeavor. It’s all His, and He has something to tell us, to teach us about all of it, so that we’ll be able to care for it well.
And, that changes everything. Because how we look at the world around us, and how we feel about it and our role in it, doesn’t just impact the effectiveness of our ability to serve God as His children on mission in His Kingdom, but it also impacts our ability to fully enjoy, understand, relate to, and be grateful for the world He’s given us. All of us want the best for our kids, and somehow in our core we know that means something better than what we had. If they can see life in all its fullness, enjoy it richly, understand their place in it, find ultimate meaning in victories and defeats, and glorify God and enjoy Him forever, these are the greatest gifts we can give them, and the greatest legacy we can someday leave them. As the Proverb says, “wisdom is greater than riches.” These are the deepest riches, the true wisdom.
This perspective on life is what Christian education provides, and only Christian education can provide the formative practices and unique ways of looking at life through the Christian imagination that leads to full transformation. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be looking at ways the Christian imaginary (way of thinking or looking at life) is completely different from the way the world around us sees, how we are, by nature and training way more secular than we realize or would like, and how that causes us to miss so much of what God has for us. We’ll look at what having a Christian perspective really means in terms of how we view life, how it increases our joy and peace as we live in it, and the true and beautiful promises of Christian education for our children.
As Shakespeare speaks through Hamlet, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy (science).” Truer words have never been spoken, and we’ll explore them together.