Our team has landed in Port Macquarie, and, contrary to our virtual-sleepiness, it’s been nothing but action since Sunday. More reflections to come about the team, and how we’ve been active in the local churches, schools, retirement homes and community. For now, here is a small reflection on the hope held out in the gospel and how God has been at work in the stony ground of the various places Port Macquarie children spend their days: schools.
Before our first Scripture class at the local public high school on Monday morning, we waited in front of this sign, posted proudly at the school entrance. These are great values. It’s important to take pride in the good things we’ve been given, to be diligent and genuine. When cultivated in a person, this can result in a good life – contributing to society, treating others well and being a responsible, respectable individual themselves. These values are great outcomes, but working towards them leads to bigger questions. How are they achieved, by humans who seem to be so prone to selfishness? Selfishness that leads to boasting, laziness, thoughtlessness? And even if they are achieved, what end are they working towards? Simply to better this world for the short amount of time we spend here?
These great outcomes just cannot overcome our natural desire to serve ourselves. We want to be these things, but often for our own gain. And even those selflessly proud, motivated, honest and safe individuals, even they trip up. They falter. Their pursuit of ‘goodness’ is not perfect. And once they leave this world, society is in the hands of the next generation. People have been pursuing these good values for centuries, and humanity doesn’t seem to have progressed in its attitudes towards one another.
Here is a quite different example of a school motto. These too, seem like great values. They’d contribute to society and foster healthy relationships. But the difference comes when digging at the deeper questions. How are faith and hope to be attained? Why are truth and love worth striving for? The unique and refreshing feature of these values is that they point outside of themselves to answer these questions. Faith and hope require an object, and truth and love need a goal. The gospel shows that these values are not ends in themselves, but rather come from and go back towards Jesus. The most worthwhile values to be cultivated in a school are not those that better a student’s life in this world, but rather those that lift their eyes past it: faith in our Saviour and Lord, the hope this brings, and a life marked by holding fast to this truth in love.
Join with us in prayer:
- give thanks for the scripture ministry and its leaders in local schools: we have been encouraged by the perseverance, discernment and good rapport of those leading these ministries; and students have been growing to know Jesus and grapple with the Bible through their service.
- praise God for maintaining the goodwill and commitment of local principals towards these ministries, amidst the ease of caving to pressures from parents and surrounding culture.
- ask that good relationships between local churches might be maintained, to help grow in these young ones investigating Jesus an eagerness and clarity to their evangelism.
- ask that, in His mercy, God might use ministry in schools to bring his lost ones home.