Dr. Phil Suiter - Originally posted by Richmond Academy (Richmond, IN)
The recognition of God’s claim on your child should help you to decide that Christian education is worth the cost and time.
The typical school year begins with much enthusiasm. That is especially true for families who have their children in private Christian education. There is great anticipation and expectation for what will be accomplished. But as the fall months pass into winter months, the obligation of paying a monthly tuition bill sometimes begins to weigh heavily upon the minds of parents. Should I continue to make this sacrifice? Is it really worth it? Am I depriving my family of other benefits?
Can we as Christian parents answer these questions using only financial criteria to guide us? I think not! It is vital to examine the questions from the viewpoint of God’s claim upon our children. Does God have such a claim? Is He concerned about the nature of the educational experience that we provide for our children?
The answer is “yes!” Romans 14:7-8 states, “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” If that passage is not enough, the prophet Ezekiel reports the word of the Lord in chapter 18, verse 4, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” This latter passage is addressing individual responsibility before God. The message of the Bible is clear on this very issue: God created children; therefore, He has first claim upon each child’s life. That claim extends to the nature of the educational program provided by their parents. When viewed in terms of the Word of God, one must wonder if any sacrifice is too great to keep children in a Christian school setting.
Some find the concept of “first claim” or “ownership” to be somewhat offensive. Yet the Scriptures previously cited clearly make the point of God’s ownership of children and, therefore, He has first claim upon them. The world certainly does not hesitate to make its claim. Typically, the world’s claim is stated as one of three positions. First, many public educators and legislators say that the state owns the child and that each child is a ward of the state, particularly for educational purposes. That testimony is frequently given before legislative committees. Second, others say that no one owns the child. In this case the child is granted the right to make his own decisions without the intervention of adults.
Unfortunately, many Christian parents fall into the trap of thinking their children belong to them. This is a false assumption.
Third, still others say that the parent owns the child. In this case, it is assumed that the parent has all authority in decision making relative to his child. None of these three views agrees with the teaching of the Bible.
Children belong to God; God has first claim upon their lives. Revelation 4:11 states, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Children are created by God to do with as He pleases. His pleasure is for them to give Him first place in everything they do.
Then what is the responsibility of parents? Simply this: to rear and educate children in such a way that they are prepared to respond to the call of God in whatever God chooses for them to do in life. Obviously, this does not mean that all children will be called into some area of Christian service. It does mean, however, that each child will be ready to serve and obey God in whatever area of life he embraces, whether he becomes a teacher, brick mason, bus driver, salesman, doctor, secretary, preacher, missionary, or sanitation worker.
Education must be Christ-centered if it is to please God. It must be viewed as a primary means of preparing children for a life of service to God. Only a Christ- centered education will accomplish this end. Thus, all parents will answer to God for the nature of the educational experience that they give their children.
Is there an alternative for Christian parents? Can a public school’s educational program that is based on secular humanism accomplish that? The answer is “no!” Humanism teaches that there is no higher authority than the individual. That is the basis for all of the “rights oriented” and “politically correct” thinking that controls public policy. An educational system derived from those concepts of secular humanism simply cannot prepare a child to permit God to exercise His claim upon his life. That system can only reproduce after its kind, and its kind seeks only to serve self.
Does God have first claim on your child? The answer is “yes!” The recognition of God’s claim on your child should help you to conclude that your investment in a Christian educational program is worth it if for no other reason than it pleases God.
Dr. Phil Suiter is the former executive director of the West Virginia Christian Education Association.