The church – the people of Jesus Christ – now lives in the final or the eschatological age. We are living between the times. Between the first coming and return of Christ. The period between his victory in the decisive battle between God and Satan and the day of final victory. Satan is the father of all evil and opposed to God. He, our biggest enemy, is defeated but not yet eliminated. For this reason Christian parents and children live on the battlefield. Christian parents and their children must be watchful and prepared for this spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10-18).
Paul (Rom. 8:20) asserts that after the Fall creation was subjected to futility (Gr. mataiotes), emptiness, frustration, sin, evil, disharmony, and apparent meaninglessness. This condition came after creation was complete. After the Fall, Adam and Eve and all their descendants lost their innocence and real freedom (Rom. 5:12). People not only commit sins but are sinners, and the nature of their children are inherently affected.
The Biblical writers assume the destruction of the relationship between God and humanity – this ultimate relationship – is the root of all other relationship problems. Psychological problems come from conflicts within the individual. Sociological and political disruptions spring from disharmony between individuals and groups. Environmental disorders stem from improper relationships between humanity and nature, and even between the various parts of nature itself. All these are results of the Fall. And the necessary harmony and purpose of life can only be reinstated when God’s rightful place and role in the universe are acknowledged.
The spiritual battlefield in South Africa has now moved to our schools. A court case is pending in which the atheists want to remove Bibles and all religion from our schools. The question is what can we as Christians do against the dark side in the South African (and global) educational system. What is the task of the Christian parent and child?
During the first and second century, many Christians placed themselves in opposition to the cultures of both Judaism and the Roman world. Some abandoned the world and founded their own societies. Even in the twenty first century many Christians opposed the structures and customs of society to the extent that they either withdraw mentally and emotionally or even physically as they form their own communities with their own cultures. This exclusion, however, is not the answer.
Jesus taught that we are ..in the world..but not of the world (Joh. 15:18-19; 17:14-16). He insisted that political rulers have their rights and dues (Matt. 22:21; 23:2-3). But he denounced any person or group that sought to usurp the place and prerogatives of God. Jesus never advocated complete withdrawal. He lived in society, taught people, and sent his representatives into the societies of his day, then and up to the end of the age.
As God’s people, the church and parents have a prophetic role; a role which will often result in resentment and hostility from society. Nevertheless, we have the responsibility to relate to society with LOVE and to announce the good news of Jesus Christ. It is of little importance whether we receive a response similar to that of Felix to Paul’s witness, namely: Go away... or not (Acts 24:25). Church history is replete with accounts of those who have taken this responsibility seriously regardless of the response.
The church collectively and parents individually need to relate to society as witnesses with all the available methods appropriate to the message of Biblical education and Christian morals. These include preaching, all verbal opportunities and also behaviour. Behaviour which demonstrates to the world the Christian’s concern for the escalating evil, the lack of love, justice, and mercy even in the face of opposition from society. Our children are very vulnerable. We must also address this vulnerability by helping our children to grow spiritually, academically, and culturally.
As Pentecostals we must influence public policies that will protect the rights of parents to choose the educational program that best meets the educational and spiritual needs of their children. It is important to work in collaboration with families, churches, governments, leaders and organisations to promote school compliance with all applicable laws. State funded schools must allow students wanting to study religion to do so as an extracurricular activity, as they would with any other such activity. Our greatest emphasis should be on child and student development of moral character and personal virtue. This also means involvement in community service, politics, and fine arts.
The first priority is to begin in our own homes. The Christian home is the last bastion for progressive Christianity. Our children need to be more confident in their ability to deal with life challenges than their peers. We must be experts in developing the whole child.
If we leave a vacuum in our society, evil will fill the gap and it will even influence our whole society and our political future. But I believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life and to transform the church, communities and education systems to the glory of God.