While still 17, my friend, Billy, signed up for the U.S. Marines. When 18, he attended and graduated from boot camp in San Diego. Marines often argue if the west-coast or the east-coast boot camp is more rigorous. From my couch, both sound pretty intense. Billy has earned the title “Marine” and defends our country well.
In Sunday School, kids often sing “I’m in the Lord’s army – yes, sir!” It’s true all believers are part of the church and commissioned to attack the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18). And though they may “sign up” to follow Christ before they are adults, what should their training ground be, and when are they ready to fight for truth and justice?
Some say our children belong in public schools to be salt and light. But before children are deployed, we should know if they are bound to the cause. When Billy enlisted as a Marine, he took an oath, publicly pledging loyalty to the U.S. In churches that practice a believer’s baptism, it is often seen as a public declaration of loyalty to God. Yet many churches reserve baptism for older children or teens, citing the difficulty in knowing that a young child’s faith is his own. Should such children be sent out as public school missionaries?
Let’s say a child is a professing, baptized Christian. The Bible tells parents to train this child in the way he should go. Is a public school the right place for that training? Certainly there was no ISIS in San Diego shooting at Billy during boot camp. He learned in a safe (but not easy) environment before engaging the enemy.
Similarly, students who train under Christian teachers, in an environment where they are safe to explore and debate the various arguments of this world through the lens of Scripture, learn to combat lofty opinions and stand for truth. In contrast, students in a public school environment are not equipped first to face the enemy fire (sometimes overt, often subtle) that rains down in that institution.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… 2 Cor. 10:4-5
We should lovingly struggle against the wrongs of public schools, but it is not wise to think we do so by placing our children under their authority. A Marine officer would never tell someone under his command to take orders from an enemy officer. Can a student be effective at changing a system they have been told to follow?
“There is a big difference between sending ‘fully trained’ disciples into enemy territory and sending our recruits to our enemy’s training camp. If we do the latter, we shouldn’t be surprised when our children come home wearing the enemy’s uniform and charging the hill of our home while waving an enemy flag.” – Voddie Baucham, Family Driven Faith
In all this talk of war, we must remember we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. No, we love and pray for the students and staff of our public schools. But we are in a war with the powers and principalities–and principles, which control that institution. And prayer and proper training are essential to winning the war.
At Agape Christi Academy, we come alongside parents to train children to contend for truth, goodness, and beauty; to love mercy and act justly; and to attack the very gates of hell with the Gospel. This preparatory education is not easy, but it is critical. The battle for Truth rages on.
Post by Dave Johnson, President of the Agape Christi school board and father of two students