This past week in Jamaica has been quite an interesting experience. Never before has a team from our church had such uninhibited access to children in the local schools. During our time at the school, I witnessed our church members teaching long division to a class filled with fourth and fifth graders. I saw church members teaching soil conservation to a room full of sixth graders. I even saw a church member trying to convince a room full of first graders that roosters lay eggs (they don’t, in case you’re curious). We ran P.E. for the students during the week. And of course, we helped them with a brand new computer lab.
Our time in the Philadelphia All-Age School helped us to build some great relationships with the children – many even remembering us from last year. The dynamics that exist in a Jamaican classroom are very interesting. In their small four-room schoolhouse, there are some children who want to succeed and there are some children who simply want to go home. Unfortunately, the nature of their educational system allows those children who perform poorly to simply slip through any number of cracks. We found that there were many children who respected authority and as a result, they were excelling in their studies. And we found that there were many who rejected authority and naturally, they were falling behind.
I’m sure that such a dynamic exists in most classrooms – Jamaican or not. But the extremes are very evident in such a hostile classroom setting. Unfortunately, disobedience, disrespect, and rebelliousness leads to disaster in a culture that so desperately wants to rise up from the poverty and violence of her past.
In 1 Peter 1:14-16, Peter uses a similar educational paradigm to communicate our need to submit ourselves to the Lord. He wrote, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.” We do not want to be like the disobedient children in a classroom, always missing the mark. Instead, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ, we want to be obedient to our Teacher, excelling in the educational process we call discipleship.
Peter commands us to be holy. And we well know that holiness is not found by doing our own thing, our own way, but by being obedient to Christ. Peter reminds us, “As the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct…” In the classroom, it doesn’t matter if the subject is literature or biology; obedient students always strive to do their best. In the classroom of discipleship, the every aspect of the Christian’s conduct is to be holy and pleasing to the Lord.
So, how are you doing in the class where Jesus is your teacher? Are you submitting to His authority? Most importantly, how is your conduct score? Are you getting an “H” for holiness? Make it your goal to be like an obedient child, submitted perfectly to your perfect Teacher.