Can you think of who was the best student in all of history?
Probably not a whole lot of surprise here, Jesus was the best student ever. His teacher(s) probably were also some of the best ever, because of Philippians 1:6, which says that if God begins a good work, or has plans for you, He will complete that good work. God will provide all means and resources to accomplish His plans, and that includes good and godly Christian teachers for the students He has plans for. (He sure had plans for Jesus!) So I would assume Jesus’ teacher(s) were the best ever. He was probably home schooled (hooray for home school!), but we don’t know for sure. So, can you see part of the purpose of sound Christian schooling is as the vehicle through which God’s will is completed in people.
There is not a lot of information in the Bible about Jesus’ schooling, or His childhood, but there is enough for us to learn a lot and apply that to Christian schooling. In Luke chapter 2, Doctor Luke (remember, Luke was a medical doctor as a vocation when He met Jesus) tells us in verse 40 that Jesus as a “Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”
I state elsewhere in this blog that I believe wisdom comes from knowledge. Knowledge comes from the Word of God, and with that knowledge and wisdom come strength in the spirit to accomplish God’s plans. A very basic lesson and purpose right there for Christian schooling.
Jesus must have been taught very thoroughly the scriptures they had in that day. He quoted a lot of scripture passages throughout His ministry in applicable context. Wisdom comes from understanding the knowledge learned, and in knowing how to apply the correct understanding of the knowledge learned, so He must have been taught how to use that knowledge. He had learned so well that when he was only twelve years old, he spent a long time (Luke says three days) during and just after the Feast of the Passover “…in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.”
Now a question that is often raised has to do with weather or not Jesus had Divine nature here at this age or not. I don’t think it matters. I think since we Christians are to be like Jesus, we can apply here how Children are to learn, and how they can be like Him, even when Jesus was twelve. Christian schools and home schools can find a standard there to aspire to as well. A little later in Luke 2, verse 52, is a little more about Jesus as a student, and the quality of His education. There is a lot we can glean from that short sentence: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” There are four areas of life that the schooling of Jesus addresses here: mental, physical, spiritual, and social. Sound Christian schooling must train children in these four areas. They are individual areas, but work together, and it takes all four to have a sound Christian student. Let’s look at each of them, and see how your Christian school or home school does in each area:
- Mental I would assume this is your main focus in schooling. It is listed first for a reason. It is the foundation from which the other three build from, and the other three must have this to be of value. Mental includes academics or the knowledge of things, and the wisdom of how to use or apply those things. Mental must also include the knowledge of what is right and true. Mental must also include discernment, which means the thought process to evaluate and come to a conclusion on any topic or issue, usually based on the knowledge of right and truth. Mental means to think logically. Mental must also include self discipline, which is the ability and maturity to control your thoughts and ideas, since everything begins in the mind as a thought or idea. Self discipline is a mental ability for all areas of our life.Mental must include the understanding of a biblical world view, including the battle of good versus evil (God and Satan) as described in the Bible. It also includes the sinful nature of all people, the penalty for sin, that the penalty for sins was paid for by Jesus, and the purpose of life to serve Jesus as your Lord, if you choose to repent of your sins and accept Him. Mental must include the tools necessary to serve God, and to recognize, resist, and possibly battle Gods enemy, Satan, as described in Ephesians 6:10-20.
- Physical We are not purely mental, but physical as well; they go hand in hand. A physically strong, healthy, and active person is a mentally strong, healthy, and active person as well. Teaching physical topics includes our bodies as the temple of God, and the proper use for our bodies, as well as some misuse topics (what is acceptable, and unacceptable to God). It also includes physical activity. Why do we have recess for children, gym class, intramural, individual, and team sports?
I am a big proponent for sports in school, and sports teams for home schoolers to join. God created us to be physical beings, to use and enjoy the use of our bodies in glorifying Him in physical activity, and to learn valuable lessons. Sports teaches self discipline, character, respect for rules and authority, boundaries, respect for others, it teaches confidence, work ethic, communication, responsibility, unity, and many other lessons in life, including winning and losing, and how to handle each. I praise God for sports because of it is a wonderful place to teach children the valuable lessons He wants them to learn.I would like to add a comment here that sports can also be an area where we can easily succumb to worldly views, instead of godly requirements. We are to portray the character of Jesus, not selfish prideful character that can be demeaning of others. Our coaches need to teach this. We need to be truthful. If a child makes a mistake, telling them “it’s OK” is not the truth, but telling them where their mistake occurred, and encourage them to try again to improve is. Everyone is made by God with different abilities and different levels of ability, but all can be a glory to God. There are winners and there are losers, but losers can be winners if they gave 100% of their effort. How the game is played is more important than winning. Compromising your values to win is a horrible life lesson to teach in sports. Teach Christian values, and sports is a great place to teach, practice, and perfect those values.
- Spiritual As mentioned in the mental area above, Christian schooling must teach the biblical world view. Spirituality is part of this, of course, and must include the teaching and understanding of God’s Word, the Bible. Spiritual comes from the Latin spiritus which means breathing. Religious and spiritual are two different things. Religion is people’s attempt to please God, spiritual is taking on the nature or the very essence of God. In 2 Timothy 3:16, the Bible says that all scripture is “God breathed”. Therefore, the meaning of being spiritual is to have as our nature, or our very essence, the Word of God. We are to live the Bible. In addition to that, the Bible teaches that we are created by God to have a relationship with Him. A relationship with God is so important to Him, that He sent His Son to die on the cross to pay for our sins, so we can have a communicative relationship with God without the barrier of sin in between us. God loves to communicate with us (prayer, and reading His Word). He loves for us to try to understand Him, and to be obedient to Him, which is spiritual. Sound Christian schools teach their students to live the Bible, to obey God, and to have a communicative relationship with Him.
- Social We are to have and maintain relationships. We are to have companionship and unity among fellow Christians. Relationships are extremely important for growth as a Christian, accountability as a Christian, and the spreading of the Gospel. To be social, we must have the learned ability to reason logically, and to communicate effectively through rhetoric. Being social means to be friendly, courteous, caring, loving, respectful, serving, compassionate, trustworthy, God honoring, and edifying. By nature, people are selfish, self centered, and proud. (sinful nature we all have) These are detrimental to relationships with others, and in our relationship to God. To be social, we must have well developed mental and spiritual areas.Kids today are the most social kids in all of history, with e-mail, texting, cell phones, and social sites on the internet. So Christian schools have a much bigger reason to teach Christian social skills. To re-iterate: being social is a learned skill, and as mentioned above, schooling must include teaching logic and rhetoric. Christian schools must teach others-centered, Christ-like social skills based on biblical mental abilities, and spiritual abilities, with the awareness and overcoming of selfishness and pride.