Remaining Faithful in a Public School System
(Matthew 5:14 NIV)
by Dan Blankenship
I just finished listening to a radio broadcast first sent out over the airwaves on June 23, 1963. It was an intense discussion on Canadian CBC radio of the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made reciting the Lord’s Prayer in public schools illegal. The Supreme Court decision was the result of a case brought before the court by atheist Madeleine Murray O'Hare on behalf of her son. From that moment in history, until this very day, Christianity and public schools have been a strange mix, with some schools openly allowing displays of Christian fellowship to be exercised at school functions, and other schools openly opposing any expression of any religious beliefs on campus.
So where does this leave the Christian teen? Should his or her faith be concealed while on campus? The answer to the first question is that the Christian teen finds himself right where the disciples did, walking and speaking amongst some like-minded brethren, and some in complete disagreement. And the answer to the second question is absolutely not, Christian teens should embrace their faith and be that shining light on the hill that Matthew 5:14 (NIV) speaks of! In fact, the one of the greatest roadblocks in saving souls in today’s world is young people (not just teenagers) inability or fear of sharing their faith with their friends. I know, because I was a teenage Christian and I am raising two Christian teens at the moment.
Sharing the gospel is not an easy task, especially when the world has tried to make religion out to be the cause of all that is bad – “religious people try and limit a woman’s right to control her own body, all wars were started by religion,” and on and on. We’ve all heard the negative stereotypes attached to the Christian faith. We need to research the critiques and be ready to kindly debate these false accusations against our faith. I’m not saying Christians have not made mistakes or really bad decisions in the past, but I am saying that we follow a God who doesn’t make mistakes and a faith based on sacrifice and love. What more does the world need?
Ridicule for faith is definitely nothing new. Christian teens should expect that their non-Christian friends might find their actions, values, and decision making quite odd. After all, most teenagers spend over forty hours a week in a building in which the Supreme Court as deemed off-limits for religious expression, with the exception of individual states allowing a moment of silence for prayer, albeit usually silent prayer.
The best way for teenage Christians to witness to their public school classmates, and to deal with possible ridicule, is to mature in their faith and in their ability to think eternally. Our rewards, the ones that really count, come not in this life but in the next. Persecution won’t seem so bad when an eternal perspective is mentally developed.