Monday, August 6, 2012

Christian Homeschooling: A Way to Educate Our Children the Christian Way

So why do we homeschool our children? Why do we use Biblical and Christ-centered curricula and materials in teaching our children? What is our goal?

First, we must see our children as God’s children. They are ultimately God’s. They are heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Our children are ultimately not our own. We are God’s representative to our children. We treat our children the way God would treat them. We are to nurture, admonish, guide, discipline, and love them as God would do it.

What’s the essence of our parenting then? We are parenting our children in God’s stead.

Second, what should our goal be in homeschooling? Of course, in everything we do, our goal should always be to glorify God by obeying His commands. The Word of God requires us parents to instruct our children in the Christian faith and the doctrine of salvation. That’s what Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tell us. That's what 2 Timothy 3:14-15 shows us. This does not mean that you are talking to your children always, 24/7, all things about the Lord and you don’t talk to them about the ordinary things in life.

When the wise men of Scripture talk about setting a good example to our children and training them in righteousness, they mean that in the context of all of life – at home, at work, along the road, at the workshop, or in the market place.

Some of us, parents, especially those who are newly converted to the Christian faith, in our zeal and passion, we have the tendency to always correct and rebuke our children and talk to them only about God to the point of embittering them by always saying all the negative things. And our children actually end up saying, “I don’t like that God for MY God. That’s a horrible religion!” It’s all negative! It’s all outward behavior and performance that we are after in our children.

However, we will never win over our children to God when our religion is primarily negative. Yes, we must be correcting and rebuking our children – we must warn them about worldliness and waywardness – but that’s not the bulk of Christianity. That’s a part of it. The bigger part is the gospel, the grace of God in Christ, the glory and the purpose, as well as the meaning and fulfillment of life in God through Jesus Christ.

Christianity is essentially positive in nature. Our God who revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ is not a grumpy God, always correcting and rebuking, but a very attractive, joy-filled, tender-hearted, loving, and patient God. "He does not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever" (Psalm 103:9). As his children, He does rebuke us but in a very gentle way.

Here is where the education of our children comes in. We need good Christian education primarily not to get our children away from the world or ungodly children or spare them from embarrassment and bullying and materialism but PRIMARILY BECAUSE OF JESUS CHRIST! Christian education does not primarily mean teaching them good values and wisdom. That’s only a small part of it.

The bigger part of Christian education is to teach every subject or every knowledge to our children and how this knowledge relates to the Lordship of Christ and how it glorifies God! Christ is the sum and the bottom of education. He is the center of education! The positive teaching is the call of the gospel – the invitation to the fullness of Christ and the fact that Christ is both the object and subject of Christian education.

As object of Christian education, Jesus is the foundation and the goal of teaching our children. Why do we teach our children Language and Logic and Science and History and Geology and Astronomy and Anatomy and Math? So they may know God through our Lord Jesus Christ, His person and His work, His saving power and majestic rule, and in knowing Him they would learn to bow down before His Lordship and glorify Him in their knowledge.

We don’t want our children to have perfect scores in Language and Logic but they don’t understand the Bible and they do not know God. We don’t want them to have excellent grades in Science and Social Studies but they don’t bow down in adoration before the God who created our bodies and the whole universe and saved us through His Son Jesus Christ.

As Rev. Greg Lubbers writes, “This [i.e., the glory of God] is the exclusive goal of Christian education. This is what gives [Christian education] inestimable value. Where this is understood, there will be an invisible caption written above every classroom of Christian instruction and every page of Christian curriculum quoting Ecclesiastes 12:13, ‘Let us hear the conclusion of every matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man’” (The Outlook, Sept/Oct 2010, p.10).

As the subject of our children’s education, Jesus is the one who imparts His divine instruction. He acts in revealing His lordship to the hearts of our children, bringing them to bow down in humble fear. Christ accomplishes this work through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, it is the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit within the heart of our children that reveals the sovereignty of Christ and brings the appropriate response of faith, repentance and obedience.

So as the subject of Christian education our Lord Jesus acts – He does something for us that we cannot truly understand every subject without Him and without the power of His Spirit guiding our path and illuminating our mind.

Note also Ephesians 6:4 and the emphasis of nurturing our children “in the Lord.” We don’t raise our children according to OUR ideas of nurture and admonition but the nurture and admonition of the LORD and His ideas. Spiritually, morally, socially, emotionally, intellectually, and physically, we are to raise our children on behalf of God according to His Word.

The whole book of Proverbs illustrates this. Parental, especially paternal (because the father is the primary teacher), and covenantal approach (God calls us “My son…”, “My daughter…”) is the Biblical pattern of educating our children. A Christian home must be a temple in which God is not forced down children’s throat but God is acknowledged and cherished and worshiped (Psalm 34:11-14).

That means we teach our children continually (day by day), as opportunities arise (formal or informal), but we do so primarily positively, truthfully, and honestly teach them all areas of life. And in all those areas, Christ is sovereign. He is Lord of all our lives. It’s a daunting and unending task – always teaching our children. But we have the promise of God that He will equip us as we faithfully teach them.

So Christian education, especially Christian homeschool education, is valuable because it is exclusive, in that it seeks to do something nothing else does – not the public education, not the mediocre Christian education, not the godless or humanistic or man-centered education – in bringing the student face to face with a sovereign Christ as He displays His sovereignty through His person and work, calling for a response of humble fear.

While only eternity will fully reveal the results of such labor, may we, by the grace of God, labor on with immovable hope that God will crown and reward faithful Christian Homeschool education with His blessings!

(This message was first shared at our December 2011 Lighthouse Homeschool Network General Assembly. The essence of the message was based on a lecture on parenting by Dr. Joel Beeke and an article by Rev. Greg Lubbers, “The Exclusive Goal of Christian Education” from the Christian magazine The Outlook, Sept/Oct 2010).

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