Here and There
LEA Weekly Devotional
2008–2009 series: Red-Letter Days
September 23, 2008
Extended Reading: Philippians 1:12–14, 19–30
Here and There
“Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance. Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news,” (Philippians 1:27 MSG).
For educators, the concept of being here and there is most certainly not neither here nor there—if you know what I mean, which you probably don’t because I’m not sure myself.
Put in less cerebrally convoluted terms and devilish double negatives, you might say that educators understand the concept of being in two places at the same time. And yes, one requires an out-of-body presence for students.
Once upon a less-litigious era, it was possible for teachers to leave the classroom for essential … well, bodily functions, sometimes caused by early-morning java excesses. Upon leaving the room, often hurriedly, the teacher informed students they should behave as if “I am in the room.” (Those of us less confident of our students might add something like “Remember, I can hear you through the ductwork,” which worked well unless you had radiators and students knew the difference.”)
Good educators know that the real test of student achievement is how they continue to grow and apply knowledge and how they act when the teacher isn’t around. Which will be most of their lives. (Yes, the best is yet to come—for both you and your students.)
Regardless of the bulk of subject matter you may teach, the single most important content area is religion. You already understand that religion is more than a class period of Bible stories, confirmation lessons, prayer, and memory work. Religion encompasses all of life, even when we try to segment it into scheduled coursework. God is omni-everything (remember the omnis from the catechism?); therefore, we teach and model religion all the time.
Following Paul’s lead in the text above, we teach students to be “a credit to the Message of Christ.” This transcends our ability—or necessity—to be both here and there. Christians—young and old—do not benefit from a teacher standing over them menacing, cajoling, nagging, or even encouraging them to live their faith. (In reality, the Teacher is always there, the model and motivation for all that Christians do.)
We teach students how to be “a credit to the Message of Christ.” It is the second most important thing we teach. (The first is to teach students what God has done for them through Jesus Christ.)
If you asked students of any age (try it) what it means to be “a credit to the Message of Christ,” their first response may include obeying the 10 Commandments followed by a list to rival Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Moral behavior is important, but it has a shortcoming—and we’re it.
Teaching students to qualify as a credit to Christ involves educating them to do as Jesus did—right up until His last gasp at Calvary. Sinners like us will continue to sin in our current phase of life. God will continue to forgive us for Jesus’ sake. And in turn, we’ll be a genuine credit to Christ when we do the same for others.
Forgiveness is your largest line of credit—here, there, everywhere.
Written by Edward Grube, LL.D.
Director of Publications & Communications
© 2008 Lutheran Education Association
Scripture quotations identified as MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
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