Thursday, February 9, 2017

On Standing for Truth in the Public High School

I am a public high school physics teacher. I am also committed to following Christ and to the idea that his reign extends to all of life. Yet in our culture it is inappropriate for a public educator to proselytize or to advocate for one's own religion. How then do I stand for Christ while not being able freely to discuss him in the classroom?

Consider this conversation between me and a student:
Student: Where is room 235?
Teacher: Where would you like it to be?
Student: [look of confusion] I don't know...
Teacher: Well, culture tells us that we can make up our own truth. What true for you is not true for me. So, what is the truth here?
Student: Well, I guess whatever makes us happy?
Teacher: Great. So where would you like room 235 to be to make you happy?
Student: I just want to get to my meeting!
Teacher: Oh, so room 235 can't be just anywhere?
Student: I guess not.
Teacher: So, truth isn't just what we make it to be?
Student: Nooo...[again, the look of confusioin]
Teacher: Room 235 is just around the corner.
What was my point of this conversation that the student probably thought was pretty weird? It was simply to show that reality does not bend to our wishes, that the things that we think in our heads must match the world out there if they are to be true.

Nobody can possibly live consistently with the idea that truth is what we make it, no matter how many times we are told otherwise. Room 235 is where it is and not where I'd like it to be.

Before a person can accept the truth about Jesus Christ and his work of redemption for mankind, and person must first believe that the Christian account of reality is true. Before they can accept the Christian understanding of the world as true, they must first believe that truth is true. Francis Schaeffer used to talk about the notion of "pre-evangelism," that is, that before we can meaningfully discuss the gospel with someone, we first have to prepare the soil, so to speak. They have to be ready to hear truth, and if they are not ready, then we will not be communicating what they first need to hear.

So I look for opportunities in the classroom to show my students that truth is true. The world does not stoop to me; I must stoop to the world. In lots of little ways like this I am proclaiming truth to my students. Then, maybe down the road in God's sovereignty somebody else will come along to meaningfully share the gospel of Jesus Christ and that person will be ready to hear and consider it.

Something to think about.

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