Russell and Duenes

Education is “Not By Might Nor By Power, but by My Spirit”

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zechariahLet’s take a crack at this. God famously says to Zechariah the prophet that his word to Zerubbabel is: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.” But exactly what is it that will be accomplished “by God’s Spirit?” Is this just a spiritual maxim for any and every situation? Certainly God’s people are to do all things by God’s Spirit, but too often this is seen in atomistic, individualistic terms. Yet perhaps God means it to be seen in the context of something He is doing in and through God’s people as a whole, both immediately and for generations. What God wants done in Zechariah’s day is the rebuilding of His temple in Jerusalem, and this is something that is to be done by His Spirit. But I think it points beyond the building of a mere building, to the work that God is doing in bringing about the message and power of redemption to all the nations of the earth. This, too, is by God’s Spirit, and it is a long-term project.

I begin with this because I see education as part and parcel of God’s kingdom purposes among the nations, something to be accomplished “not by might nor by power, but by God’s Spirit.” And this relates to a question that was put to me: What about homeschooling or private Christian schooling for those who require two incomes just to provide the basics, or for single-parent families?

I want to address this question in two ways: 1) With respect to immediacy, and 2) with the long view. In the near term, I think there are a number of ways that two-income families or single parents can be helped to choose a Christian education for their children. First, one of my commentors is surely correct is saying that “many, maybe even most families that say they ‘have’ to have two incomes could cut back and still live comfortably on one income. It’s all in where your priorities are.” I’ll have more to say about this under my “long view” answer, but Jesus’ words ring true here: “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.” Having said that, I know there are two-income families who truly must have both incomes, and there are still the single parents. The church could help here in the short-term, by providing scholarships and stipends to families that wanted a Christian education for their children. Our churches spend money on all sorts of other services and ministries, why not this one? More churches could also begin to establish and fund schools of their own, so as to help with the education of God’s people. Many private Christian schools already offer scholarships; I know the school I used to work at does. I wager there are more options for such parents than we think. I wonder how many have truly researched the options available in their local communities.

These questions are, however, more importantly answered by taking the long view, and this is what makes me think of God’s word to Zechariah. We need to start with what God is doing among His people, “by His Spirit.” This means we have to walk things back several steps and start thinking about the question: What is education for? Not “Christian” education, but education. It is for “making disciples of all the nations.” It is for “training up your children in the discipline and admonition of the Lord.” It is for “loving the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your strength, and with all of your mind.” That’s what education is for, and that’s what government schools are ill-equipped to do.

And when we walk it back like this, we should think of John Piper’s word to us: “I’m tired of American priorities.” It’s American priorities that keep the government schools running, not biblical priorities. If we stopped thinking of the words, “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” in radically individualistic, short-term ways, we might say to the single parent: “Right now, there is no way that you can provide a private education for your child. But by gum, you can surely think differently about your child’s education. You can begin to see the bankruptcy of the public schools. You can begin to ‘keep the conversation live’ about alternatives to the government schools, you can act politically to see the current system dismantled, you can begin to talk with others in your churches and spheres of influence about your newfound thoughts on education, you and others can begin to pray together about this, and on down the line.” This may lead to others similarly having a change of heart, and this may lead, over generations, to a re-thinking and re-vamping of our educational institutions. This takes patience. This is the long view. This requires God’s Spirit to be the driving and motivating power.

This change of priorities might also mean that Christians will begin to think differently about the economic level they think they need for their families. It may lead to a questioning of our careerism, which in turn may lead to changes over time in how our professional lives are structured. It may lead to a more practical application of “love thy neighbor as thyself” when it comes to schooling. Thus, we may find that the single parent and the two-income family has options for giving his of her children an explicitly Christian education. May the Lord help us to keep the ball rolling in this direction.




Written by Michael Duenes

June 11, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Duenes, Education

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