By Milton V. Uecker, EdD
Part 6 of 8 part series (2005)
To this day I remember the ways in which my students and I met God through their acts of obedience. One response in particular stands out in my mind. Scott had only just entered the kingdom through a lesson in which repentance was a called-upon response. Following a later lesson on faith, the children discussed something they might do to place their trust in God. Scott had heard the testimony of a missionary several weeks before, and he decided that he would make a “faith promise” of a dollar a month (a substantial amount for a boy in 1973). He promised a dollar because he didn’t know where that amount would come from. Throughout the year I would remind him of his promise, and he would say that God had not yet provided. At the end of the year Scott, along with his classmates, designed posters for the local Society for the Blind’s annual campaign. Scott, who was never known to complete art projects, created an enlarged version of a comic book cover. His concept was that the blind can read in Braille, but they cannot enjoy a comic book without sight. Yes, Scott won first place. The director of the program presented Scott with his ten-dollar prize in chapel, and Scott in turn recognized this as God’s provision of his promise. Needless to say, we all met God in that chapel and, in meeting God, the entire class and their teacher grew together.
If the goal is a change in behavior in the way one lives, then teaching must provide opportunities to practice and be involved in kingdom activities. Learning biology without a lab would be a very different experience from instruction that provides hands-on involvement. Since living in the kingdom involves thinking and doing, then students must be given opportunities for engagement. Would Jesus be keeping His disciples within the confines of the school? Obviously not, since His classroom was on the move and disciples were sent out to begin practicing kingdom living as a part of the mentoring process. Students must move their muscles through these new patterns of behavior. They must develop the skills and experience the realities of this new way of life. Days of prayer for tsunami victims, local outreaches to the poor and homeless, mission trips, involvement in ACSI mission’s day, assisting the elderly, and sharing meals are but a few examples of these “lab” activities. It is through these activities that students not only experience the joy of service, but they begin to experience for themselves God and the richness of life in His kingdom.
Examine the content of the curriculum in order to assure that the “big story,” God’s redemptive story, is not missed within a curriculum that presents the Bible as an anthology of separate stories. Additionally, Willard (2005) would encourage a curriculum that goes beyond Christ on the Cross and includes an emphasis on the “body of Christian knowledge that lays the foundation for Christlikeness or the moral ideal.” Willard refers to specific passages that are a summary of life in the kingdom and as such should be not only studied but meditated upon and memorized. These include the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, Romans 8, Colossians 3, and Philippians 2-4 (1998, 362).
The role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer must be an integral part of the Bible curriculum. Unless the student yields to the work of the Spirit, kingdom living may be the result of self effort alone and therefore not transformational. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:16-17, NASB).