By Victor Harrison
Faith School Debate
One very important lesson we’ve learned about evangelism is that both Christians and none Christians alike feel very ill at ease with it. We are not only apprehensive raising the issue of religion in public places, but we feel intimidated about letting anyone know we have a firm belief in God. There is also a big clamour about not canvassing in workplaces, in schools or in the society at large. The belief out there is for a separation of religion from the public domain, mainly from politics, and education, advocating that church or faith schools should be abolished in the interest of all pupils. The promoters of severed links claim this would allow children’s minds to grow and accommodate all peoples and have a more rounded and secular upbringing. They claim faith systems are redundant, many archaic and have no relevance in a modern world. Faith they say should be kept private or be made illegal, and the rest of us not be dictated to by an irrelevant creed. They express the belief that such faith systems preach and practice separatism, creating not just isolationism, but different classes of people. Young people, they argue, need to mix and integrate with other cultures and faiths, and have friends from every sector of society. Keeping religion out of politics and school would create a fairer society, they champion, where all children are equally valued and would not be stigmatised by their faith or lack of it.
Bedrock of Society
Proponents of faith schools hit back that the very reason why we need faith schools is to create a just society, with equality and fairness for all. They advocate that faith schools have been the bedrock of societies for centuries and the most credited institution for creating a well-rounded and fair society. Citing the lack of morals and respect in our world today, the reason why faith schools are needed to combat hate and prejudice. A third of western schools are faith schools, they have the best educational results, the best disciplined and that faith school pupils are among the lowest number who would be involved in criminal activity. Advocates point to the fact that since the watering down of faith influence in western schools, a lack of discipline has ensued, seeing an increase in crime and violence in our streets and among our young people. Increase in teenage pregnancies, breakdown in family life, more marriages ending up in the court system, and an increasing drug culture. While this war rages on Christians are incensed by the prevailing riotous behaviour on the streets yet many in positions of influence are too timid to speak out while the public commonly claimed, “we don’t do religion”. How does one evangelise in a society keen to embrace evolution and a no God culture under the guise of modernity.
Being socially conditioned, Christians feel there is now no opportunity or reason even, to talk about God outside of a Church building or at home. Western societies have developed the spirit of separatism, between church and state advocating the freedom of public institutions from all public expressions of faith. “What relevance does a book written two thousand years ago have on modern living?”, they have asked. Witnessing with unbelieving workmates and other evangelistic systems are becoming obsolete, buried with previous generations of evangelists long dead and their graves sealed. Gospel witnessing in the public arena now seems to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiousness because spiritual matters are out of place in a public setting, people look at advocates as if they are off their marbles. So while the Holy Spirit is continuing the work of evangelism, the churches procrastinate, infected by this spirit of fear created by Satan through his legions of atheist representatives in high places of society. Christians have forgotten the great commission of Matthew 28 to “preach the word” for a witness in all nations, creed and tongue. Consequently many of us fold our hands, hang our heads in despair and shut our mouths when the call comes to evangelise. Christian faith groups have now decided in fear of those who would ridicule their beliefs, that it’s now up to God to bring people to faith, but we are not going to join in the process, we save ourselves, not others.
God indeed is evangelising, bringing people to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus, “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; (John 16: 8 – 10 NIV). The work of the Holy Spirit among men is about convicting, and declaring that we are guilty before God, a great Evangelistic effort. The body of Christ “Christians” are required to share in this global effort, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28: 19-20NIV). Believers are being encouraged to rise above fear and shame and work with the Holy Spirit in influencing the whole of human society with the gospel of Christ. We can appreciate our role in spreading this message, as joint labourers in the field, when we understand the work of the Spirit in our homes, in schools and society. The mission to save souls demands the crucial appreciation of a rampant enemy destructive to lives and families.
The world is heavy with the need for a divine awakening; likewise it is essential in the congregations of the saints. Being totally ignorant with the knowledge that God constrains evil and encourages good, the doubter can be untroubled about the danger he is in, about life in general and so becomes distant concerning spiritual things. The saints on the other hand become unmoved and detached to the truth of the spiritual needs of society. The Holy Spirit inspires the doubting Thomas’s consciousness to his true spiritual condition outside of Christ. The Spirit’s mission in the world is to generate an atmosphere of evangelistic awareness among the saints, which adds momentum to church forward planning. The regenerative process is God’s doing, “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit…Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit…You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again…The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3: 5-8 NIV). The church, the body of Christ with its myriad of programs is designed merely to facilitate and enhance the new birth. Your challenge today friend, if you are not yet born again, what has stopped you? Submit to the will of God and in Christ, being born again, you will find it is the greatest most meaningful and productive step you will ever make in your life.