When I was a child, I learned about God at church and in Sunday school. My parents talked about Jesus (“He’s the reason for the season!”), and my family always said a blessing before eating a meal. It was clear God was at church and at home. When I was at school, God’s name was never mentioned. Teachers didn’t pray with students. He was never identified as the Creator of the rocks we were studying, or the Lord who is sovereign over history. It was clear that God and school were separate.
As I matured in my faith and grew as an adult, I began to live by looking at the world through the lens of what I know about God. We call this a “biblical worldview.” This was uncommon thinking, given that God and school were considered separate. I was learning to see God everywhere and in everything. As Christians, we know that God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 2:6). We know that he is above all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). Could it be then, that God was present and relevant in the lessons at school? I was not taught to teach this way in my secular, public university. What does God have to do with Math? Latin? Penmanship??
I have enjoyed a Bible storybook with my kids as part of our bedtime routine. I have been learning along with them that, truly, every story points to Jesus. Abraham sacrificed a lamb instead of his son. Many years later, another Son would be offered as a sacrifice. Moses led God’s people out of Egypt and out of slavery. Many years later, God would rescue his people and set them free forever. David became a hero when he defeated Goliath. Many years later, God would send another Hero to fight for his people and save them.
As a teacher, it is my great joy and honor to unveil for my students the beauty and wonder of Christ in all of the subjects I teach. Just as every story points to Jesus, every subject and every lesson reveals the God of the universe, our Creator. To use a phrase from Johannes Kepler, “We are thinking God’s thoughts after him.” We are discovering the order and patterns He put into place, and the more we understand, the more we see the hand of God. In Math, we talk about how God created order out of chaos. Like God, numbers are orderly, sequential, and unchanging. My fourth graders have delighted in the order of the pattern of square numbers and the patterns found in the multiplication table. It is a beautiful thing to hear students say, “Wow! I never realized that!” as they discover the patterns and order that make math function.
In Latin the patterns and order continue, and students learn more about their native tongue while using what they know about English to translate Latin sentences. Students enjoy finding English derivatives to add deeper meaning to Latin words. For example, the Latin word discipulus means “student” and from it we get the English words “disciple” and “discipline.” Imagine the conversations in the classroom as students make connections between being a student and a disciple. (Parents, they know you discipline because you love them! You would be amazed as the students recall, “The Lord disciplines those he loves.” Kids understand the need for discipline as part of the discipleship process.) They make connections to learning from their parents, teachers, pastors, and Jesus—all from a discussion about the Latin word for “student.”
We value neat penmanship and forming letters beautifully. Again, we have an opportunity to reflect God’s attributes as God delights in order and beauty. We are communicating well using the abilities God gave us. (Have you ever had to decipher a love note from an admirer with illegible penmanship?) What a worthy goal it is to seek to emulate God by creating something beautiful. God has placed the mystery of salvation in a written story, and God calls himself the Word, so we know the written word has value to the One who created it.
As we travel through life, learning and gaining understanding about the world God created, it becomes easy to identify God’s attributes woven through all that we study in our daily lessons. And if the “chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism), school really becomes a place full of wonder and of praise! Soli Deo gloria! (To God alone be the glory!)