Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Sign for Jesus?

I made a somewhat nasty Facebook comment the other day. Well, at least my mother thought it a bit nasty saying, "Shame on you."

I was driving home from my son's preschool and was greeted by a smiling boy, waving at us as we passed....but my eyes were quickly drawn toward the sandwich board on his chest which read, "Evolution is a lie. Trust in Jesus."

I described this on my status updated and then asked if the mother of this son thought that constituted his science homeschool lessons for the day. True, I should have left homsechool comment out and just asked, "What's the point?"

You see, there are these signs cropping up everywhere around here, and they really bug me! There is a large sign near the post office that lists a bunch of "horrible" sins and then lets us all know we are perishing, but if we'd like some help we can call the listed number below. Would you call that number?

There is also a blue truck, an infamous blue truck, who's sides read in blazing, holy white, "Hell is eternal."

There are several other signs that basically breathe fire and brimstone. All of these signs originate from the same little local church. They seems to supply their parishioners were the same, neat lettering for their sign making aspirations.

I just find the whole thing obnoxious, and I hope I'm only upset because I am a Christian, praying that everyone else who does not claim to be a Christ follower are shielded from reading these....that God has placed a blinding angel in front of these modes of persuasion, so that we Christians aren't creating more and more blocks for others seeking a gracious God.

The homeschool line was definitely a jab. But the thing is I know this family homeschools as I've seen them day after day playing in their yard together. They really do seem happy and free, and I love seeing children play together, but the teacher in me knows that there is no way quality educating is going on. Quality questioning. Quality thinking.

I'm always nervous to express my passion for public education. I have a handful of friends and readers who have chosen to homeschool, and so I'm afraid I'll offend by letting my beliefs seep out. And I know that many of them would never claim that having your kid wear a sandwhich board is science class. Note That.

My prayer each day is that I would remember that I'm a miracle, that God's love for me is miraculous grace and no amount of rule keeping makes me more deserving of his love. I continually ask God to fill me with his Spirit so that my life actions are my sandwhich board.


heather said...

Your last paragraph is so spot on. You know, one thing that I love about "the body of Christ" is the diversity. Seeing signs like you mentioned on your FB page and in this post sometimes bother me too. But, I try to remind myself that Christ is reflected in a variety of ways. Even ways that might seem offensive to me. There are passages of the Bible that make me feel more comfortable than others, but it is all God's Word. That makes me want to focus on extending grace and living a life, as you mentioned, that reflects God and points people to Him.

And about educational choices, those decisions are very personal and most every thoughtful parent I know has given serious thought and consideration as to how to best educate their children. And the conclusions drawn look very different in the different families that I know. I have friends who homeschool, some who choose public school, some private, some charter. I love that there are so many great options.

You should be enthusiastic about public education since that is what is working for your family. Just like I am enthusiastic about homeschooling because that is what is working for our family at this point. But, it is also good to accept that there is not one right choice that is best for every family. I think we agree on that.

About the homeschool "jab". I thought it was funny, as I hope my response to you on FB showed. I guess I think it is good be able to have a sense of humor at the stereotypes out there. It is also good to be gentle (not that I thought you weren't). I just have had to remind myself of that at times. At this point I feel quite comfortable with our educational journey, but it can be a tender issue for people. Which is why I have a blog post that has been on hold since early discusses an observance I made in our local public school...but I want to make sure it is worded appropriately before posting...still these are good topics for discussing.

Rebekah said...

Yes, I know what you mean about leaving a post in draft form for a while. I think that is good and wish sometimes I did that more....let things rest a bit before pushing send etc.

Glad you got the humor in my comment. It really wasn't meant to be taken too seriously.

I'd actually love to read your post.

Thank you for writing so much on your comment! I really do love dialogue and love input...response is the highest compliment.

You continue to break stereotypes of homeschoolers for me. You and another friend of mine, Pricilla, who work very hard at homeschooling and take it very seriously. And I see good things, good results from your children.

I do have a bit of a bias against homeschooling because I always saw the situations that didn't work so well and then students would be placed back in school and very my classes. I'm actually glad that these parents made the decision that it wasn't working for them and weren't stuck and too prideful to enroll them back in to school etc. Just like I hope I am able to swallow my pride if my educational choice isn't working at some point. A perfect example of me saying one thing and then concluding another is preschool.

I used to be so against preschool and thought it was unnecessary, but then my oldest needed that transition into kinder and I saw so many good things from his experience in preschool.

Rachel P. said...

See, I had no idea that you had any opinion one way or the other about public school. I did wonder why you chose to send your children to school since you are truly qualified to teach them at home, but I didn't really think anything beyond what your thought process might be. Whatever a family's choice in educating their children, I think you are exactly right to clarify that it is your concern is the education of the children due to your past experiences. As for the billboard and religious-statement plastered truck I've seen them and they remind me of something. The proverb, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar" intrigued me so I set out a pan of vinegar once. The next morning I did not have flies, but I did have a bunch of little gnats in the pan. So perhaps those signs may not appeal to us, but perhaps it just might cause a non-believer to look up fornication in the dictionary and have a revelation.

Rebekah said...

Rachel, my decision to send my kids to public school comes from my experience as a public school teacher. When I first went to college I thought I would only teach at a private school, but that was not the direction my journey took. God broke a lot of my boxes that I'd put him in and others in by my experiences with loving God and loving others in my workplace, both teachers and students. I had some pretty amazing experiences where my actions were my sandwich board, which got me to thinking, "What if Christians really took God's command to be in the world and not of the world." I think the past two decades Christians have been parenting more out of fear and are forgetting that God wants us to be IN this world. I think when we separate ourselves constantly it creates a very us vs. them feeling.....elitism etc. I know this through conversations with people who chose public school.

Growing up my only friends were people who went to church and went to private school. My world was very ability to be Christ to others? Tricky, unless I did put up a sign because I didn't have real relationships with anyone who was still seeking God. Does this make sense?

I just think it could be really amazing to see what might happen in our communities if we all saw them as our communities that we could effect change in, instead of escaping and creating worlds where we think we are building safe walls for our children.

My husband and I are very determined to not make parenting choices out of fear....not that this is why all parents chose to homsechool...many have different views of best practices for education, like classical education....

I feel like I'm rambling, but if you click on my label "homeschooling" you'll hear more about our decision.

Rebekah said...

Also, I just don't think we can console ourselves saying those types of signs do any good. I may be wrong, but it seems like whenever Jesus or his disciples were active they were healing, teaching, relating, etc....and whenever there was any "correcting" going on it was to those already in the church or Jesus toward religious leaders. am I wrong?

Also, I think the whole sign approach to evangelism is more about the sign-wearer feeling better about themselves because then they can say to God, "I did my part. I did something for you." Almost like they are earning their points for God's love and acceptance.

Jessica said...

Random and perhaps not entirely cohesive thoughts while reading your post: I feel like there are extremists on all sides of the fence, and to me, they kind of balance each other out. I am far less likely to be influenced by something obnoxious/aggressive and feel that most of the general population could be the same. So while I do have my own strong opinions and beliefs, I probably won't be sitting down to decorate a sandwich board to stick on my 4-year-old any time soon.

I do feel like we as Christians have a greater tolerance for the signs/obnoxiousness of those "playing for the other team" than we have for those with values/beliefs closer to our own.

Rebekah said...

Jessica, I loved your last line about tolerance.

Back to the sign though...the assumption is made that if you believe that the evolutionary process best describe the creation account then you must not be a Christian. I know many Christians who would disagree with that.

Our pastor had an excellent sermon on that a few weeks ago.

Click on the message titled, "Doesn't Evolution and Modern Science Contradict the Bible?

Jessica said...

Rebekah, I'll have to check out the sermon link a little later, but it's a good point about the assumption of "Believing the theory of evolution is fact = non-Christian." I think the Sandwich Board Maker would have done better to have caused the sign to read "No matter how the earth was created, Trust in Jesus." :)

I'm always amused by the billboard on I-5 South just before Goshen that says something about the sabbath being celebrated on Sunday vs Saturday and that being the work of the antichrist. I wonder how many people have come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of that billboard?

Oh, and I want to make sure and tell you and Heather how much I appreciate you both and your views of and experiences in public and home schooling. It's absolutely wonderful to read both of your insights - which may seem at first to contradict each other, but end up being perfect sides of the same coin. You both do much to hearten and encourage this (pre)pre-school Mama. Thank you girls!

Rebekah said...

Jessica, agree. I kept thinking, "Why not a sign that said, 'Thank you God for your beautiful creation'."

I just read a creation account in a children's Bible that brought tears to my eyes.

Paula Jean said...

A couple of thoughts:
Re: homeschooling. Being married to a public school teacher who became a public school administrator, I felt like our kids should go to public school. Fortunately, I didn't have any major problems with the schools they attended. In fact, many of their teachers were strong Christians who felt "called" to the public school setting. I learned to interact with and love several of the parents (non-Christians) that I met, and later could offer kindness during hard times in their lives.

I, too, had friends who chose homeschooling. Some chose it out of fear, or in reaction against what they perceived as "evil" in the public school systems. Others made the choice because they felt it was best for their kids and their family life at that point in their lives. It was a choice "toward" rather than a choice "against."

Re: the sign. I've been doing a lot of thinking, and you're right, Rebekah. Jesus and his disciples were very kind, gracious, and patient with seekers. They didn't have much patience with those who "knew it all" religion-wise. Look at the stories in the Gospel of John: Jesus makes connections with seekers without condemning them. (Woman at the well, man healed at pool of Bethesda, Nicodemus, etc.) I can't think of a time when passing judgment on someone ever brings that person closer to a deep understanding God's love, or draws them into a closer relationship with me. I'd rather err on the side of grace. Isn't that what God did with all of us?

Jen Rouse said...

I love reading the dialogue here!

I don't have too much to add, other than that I don't think that putting a child out in a yard wearing a sandwich board advertising *anything* is a good parenting practice. It's exploiting the child to express the parent's viewpoint. I absolutely think parents can and should pass on their beliefs and values to their children, but something about the situation makes me feel uncomfortable. If the parents felt so strongly about it, why weren't they out there side by side with the child, wearing a sandwich board of their own?

Heidi C said...

OK, so here's some additional fodder for the dialogue, and in addition to what we chatted about today.

First, I don't know what we are going to do with our children yet. Might depend on the child, school district, place in life, etc. And asking God's direction. But I don't think it's right for either side to think they are superior in education. Whatever route we choose, I wouldn't want my friends or family members who have chosen a different route to think that my children are going to be less educated. And I would hope I wouldn't do the same. I think that just adds to divisiveness and pride. A lot of variables contribute to a child's overall education.

Second, I think that God is big enough to use whatever community we are in to influence. If we choose to home school, it doesn't automatically mean that we aren't reaching out to people in our neighborhood, or co-workers, or other group of people we're involved with. And if we choose public schools, then he has a great plan to use us there too.

Rebekah said...

That's true Heidi. My cousin's family does that very thing and I think because they have homsechooled they are more available to those types of opportunities that you alluded too.

Now I sorta regret even including schooling options in this post because I was really reacting to the sign the child was wearing.