Col. 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Today as each school day carries out yet another installment in the education of covenant youth, outside the doors of our Christian schools stands a world grown apostate with worldly pleasures and philosophies, eager to infiltrate the walls and corrupt the young minds within. In the face of this stands the Christian teacher, an individual whose role has a vital impact not only on the mental development of each of his students, but more importantly on their spiritual development as well. For it is the teacher who plays a large part in providing the necessary tools and knowledge to study and apply the Word of God to our everyday walk.
Already in baptism covenant parents promise to see that their children are instructed to the utmost of their power in the fear of the Lord, and to this end God has graciously provided us with our Christian schools. When each child begins his education in our schools, the classroom serves as an extension of the home, and thus the teacher in a sense becomes a servant to the parents who have entrusted their children to his care. From day one a great deal of responsibility is placed on the teacher, for it is with him that each child spends a large part of each day, and it is to the teacher that they look for much of their guidance. If the strong spiritual foundation found at home is not carried over to the classroom and the child is repeatedly exposed to “vain deceits,’’ it is almost certain that some of this will take root and have great influence on the life of that student later on. Parents who raise their children within a Christian atmosphere at home, send their children to school expecting that atmosphere to be reciprocated by the teacher, who for a few hours each day has been given the responsibility of taking the parent’s place in instructing the child. The teacher’s task is a difficult one, for nearly everything he does has some sort of “ripple effect” on the students. For example, how often haven’t we heard a child say, “Teacher said that. . . .” It seems that much of what a child becomes is merely a reflection of that which he has been taught by parents and teachers. If we fill students with fruitless knowledge of the world and ignore the responsibility to shape them according to the fear of God, we have failed, for the teacher’s calling is to instill values and beliefs in their students that hold up to God’s measuring rod of truth, and not those fashioned after the “rudiments of the world.” If teachers take the covenant seed and instruct them as the world would have them do, they will only end up producing bitter fruits for their labors. But if those students are properly nurtured and corrected when going in wrong paths, the good fruits will multiply tenfold.
Today there is yet another realm of responsibility for the Christian teacher as awareness for the need for further development in the area of special education grows. As it stands now there is little access to Christian education for the handicapped students among our numbers, yet these children have equal, if not greater needs for the guidance that Christian education can provide. Within the public schools these children are not only exposed to all sorts of worldliness and an often indifferent attitude toward discipline, but they are also deprived of the vital incorporation of God’s Word into their studies. It is often the case that these children start school at a younger age, and so are exposed for a longer period of time and at a more vulnerable time in their life to people whose world-of-life view is seldom compatible to our own. Because we are creatures of imitation, often regardless of efforts to maintain Christian values at home, there is a constant battle to undo things picked up so quickly from a teacher insensitive to the Christian values we hold dear. It is then that we can see how great an impact the teacher has on the minds and behavior of his students and realize the need to begin seriously considering the role of the Christian teacher in educating all of God’s covenant seed, including those whom He has chosen to limit in some way. The task is not without obstacles, but the calling remains the same. It may seem to require longer and harder efforts with slower results, but in the end the Christian teacher can always reap reward in the promise God gives in Prov. 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”