Safety is important. In the world of schools today, safety is a high priority. All of us who are parents want our children to be safe. We buy car seats. We start them on training wheels when they are learning to ride a bike. We make sure they wear floaties or life jackets when they first start swimming.
This is a natural thing – we want our children to be safe. And I think that is both normal and appropriate. I mean, we live in a culture where Hannah Montana can become Miley Cyrus. We live in a culture where we have to be concerned about protecting our students from random gunmen. We want to protect our children appropriately. But I would like to set before you images about two different types of safe places.
The first is a bomb shelter. In a time of war, a bomb shelter is a safe place. When people fear for their lives because of enemy attacks, they may huddle together in a bomb shelter just waiting for the danger to pass, hoping they might live to see another day. And I believe that is how we as Christians often live. We huddle up in our church meetings, our small groups, our Sunday School classes and we say: “this culture is bad, it is dangerous and I can’t wait for the rapture.” We can tend to withdraw from the culture instead of engaging the culture.
Believers have faced this temptation throughout history. Think about the story of David and Goliath. The whole army of Israel stayed huddled in their camp instead of going out to face the danger; they were too afraid to take the risk of leaving the camp. So they stayed inside their camp, as if it were a bomb shelter. They stayed huddled in fear until David came in faith to face the enemy.
But there is another kind of place that is also safe in a time of war. It is a boot camp. When you are in boot camp you are not facing the enemy – you are safe from the bombs and bullets. But instead of huddling together waiting for the danger to pass, you are training and preparing to go face the enemy and win the battle.
There are two points I want to make about the boot camp image. First, we are training for a different kind of battle. Our enemy is not flesh and blood – Miley Cyrus is not the enemy. We need to have compassion on those in our culture with whom we disagree. Second, we need to learn to engage the culture instead of fleeing from it or simply condemning it. There are redemptive, good things in all cultures, as well as things that need to be redeemed.
My hope is that we will all view ECS as a boot camp, not a bomb shelter. A place to keep our children appropriately safe, yes. But also a place where they are being equipped to engage the culture with the love and grace of Jesus.
Chief Operating Officer