Why did the Puritans go to the new world on the other side of the ocean? Were they escaping persecution or getting out of dodge? Maybe they were running away from the hardships of life found in an unbelieving society? These are some of the reasons they left but not the primary one. They were running to new England, not escaping. They didn’t consider themselves to be “caught up in the rapture” to America.
As Cotton Mather put it, the first founders wanted “to carry the gospel into these parts of the world and raise up a bulwark against the kingdom of anti-christ.” In a sermon, John Winthrop said, “When He shall make us a praise and glory, men shall say of succeeding plantations, “The Lord make it like that of New England; for we must consider that we shall be as a city set on a hill: the eyes of all people are on us.”
The Puritans didn’t build a convent to shield themselves off from the world. They built a culture and took dominion over a wilderness and made it into a civilization. They strove for the highest quality in everything they did: theology, government, law, science, literature, art, music, agriculture, trade, and craftsmanship. The Puritans didn’t only make a list of things “good Christians don’t do.” They didn’t run away from the world. They charged headlong into it.
What does this have to do with Christian education? This: God has not called us to disciple students who are distinguished by what they don’t do. There were non-conformist groups that hung their hat on what they would not do. And do you know what they did? Nothing. I know God tells us to “be not conformed to this world” but that doesn’t mean do nothing in it.
We must work out our salvation in fear and trembling. As citizens of God’s Kingdom, we must work out God’s will and precepts in every area of our lives. We are to be a city a on a hill showing everyone in the world how to follow all of Christ in all of life. Christianity will fail in its commission to disciple the nations if the only thing we do is keep to ourselves and not do things. Some may have started Christian schools as a reaction to sex-ed or violence found in public schools but it can’t stop there. The purpose of the Christian school is to prepare students to build the city of God.
We need the sword of Nehemiah to ward off the enemy, to not allow impurity into the camp. But, we also need his trowel. We must actively build the Kingdom of God on earth. The Lord is using the Christian school to transform the world in terms of God’s Kingdom and by means of His Word. Let’s prepare our children to get out there and start doing God’s business.