Jesus and I are in the same line of work: redemption. At least that is the implication of Ellen White: “Education and redemption are one” (Education, 1903, p. 30).
There are several ways people interpret that “oneness.”
SAME: Jesus was a teacher and so am I. I believe that. However, seeing his life as only that of teaching can distort what is meant by “one.” Viewing the act of the Cross and the emotion and intensity of its experience and investment as the same as a professor grading papers or a kindergarten teacher explaining colors reduces redemption to a painfully low level. Christ’s work on the cross is qualitatively not just quantitatively different. Yes, they are all teaching moments, but His was more than just a longer lecture with a bigger lab demonstration. Seeing “one” as the “same” is a sacrilegious reduction of redemption. Granted, it is an aggressive and progressive view of teaching but a numbing and dumbing view of redemption. The cross was too radical to be classified as a teaching moment. It is too radical to be classified in any other professional genre: too powerful to be understood merely as healing, too costly to be economically reduced to “paying a price” (as if our “tab” could be calculated), too radical for even the legal terms of justification and acquital. It is beyond category. We can just look at this event, straining through our metaphors to appreciate aspects of it, and then bow in horror mixed with joy to value this horrendous and beautiful Event and Person. Let’s not reduce that reality to a drab sameness.
SIMILAR: Similar is better than same at understanding White’s “one.” It doesn’t conflate the two acts of redemption and education. It suggests overlapping characteristics between the two, but invites us to make a checklist of similarities without the need to conflate the two. My twin brother and I are similar, at least we look similar. But he lives in the West, I live in the East. He has two sons. I have two daughters. He is a physical therapist and I teach and blog. My daughters and I also have some similarities. We both live in the same town. We eat similar food. We both go to the same church and university. But they are female and I am male. I am old and they are young. I have a college degree and they are working on theirs. Similar is nice word as it creates a checklist of comparison. But if “same” implies too much overlap, similar implies too little. I think there is more at work in Whites view of education and redemption as one.
SYNERGY. This is the word I prefer to use when thinking about how education and redemption are ONE. It suggests a working together, very closely for the same goal. That goal is simply the uplifting of individuals and by association the WHOLE human race. God is reconciling each and all of us to himself. It this process I play a part as a teacher. Learning is the tool that I bring to the dynamic work of Christ and the Spirit of teaching others all things that are in Christ.
Redemption and education are basically both about human development. The value Jesus gives to humans and to their development is profound. Just look at the Cross. It is an overwhelming declaration of God’s heart toward us as humans in need of rescuing. The full recovery and full restoration and full dignity of all humans is assured in that one act. But it is not yet realized in all of us. That is how education–teaching and learning–can help. Christ DID and IS DOING that work. He called me to work with him, and equipped me as a teacher to cooperate.
Those who partner with God in developing humans are co-workers with God for the betterment of others. God created people for an amazing potential for development. Sin has not changed his goal, just some of the means by which He has to reach that goal. He has asked educators to partner with him. God and we educators are in a partnership. It is what makes God and I at odds with Satan.
Satan is about debilitating people. He hates the human race and schemes all the time on how to keep people depressed, suppressed, and oppressed.
But God and I are are working against Satan’s schemes. We are on the opposite team, the winning side, for human development.
I hope in a future blog to talk about the key method I have discovered for human development: leadership development.
But until then, I end fwith words of Ellen White:
“By sin man was shut out from God. Except for the plan of redemption, eternal separation from God, the darkness of unending night, would have been his. Through the Saviour’s sacrifice, communion with God is again made possible…..
“The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, . . . full of grace and truth.” “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:14, R.V.; 1:4. The life and the death of Christ, the price of our redemption, are not only to us the promise and pledge of life, not only the means of opening again to us the treasures of wisdom: they are a broader, higher revelation of His character than even the holy ones of Eden knew.
And while Christ opens heaven to man, the life which He imparts opens the heart of man to heaven. Sin not only shuts us away from God, but destroys in the human soul both the desire and the capacity for knowing Him. All this work of evil it is Christ’s mission to undo. The faculties of the soul, paralyzed by sin, the darkened mind, the perverted will, He has power to invigorate and to restore. He opens to us the riches of the universe, and by Him the power to discern and to appropriate these treasures is imparted.
…. As through Christ every human being has life, so also through Him every soul receives some ray of divine light. Not only intellectual but spiritual power, a perception of right, a desire for goodness, exists in every heart. But against these principles there is struggling an antagonistic power…. To withstand this force, to attain that ideal which in his inmost soul he accepts as alone worthy, he can find help in but one power. That power is Christ. Co-operation with that power is man’s greatest need. In all educational effort should not this co-operation be the highest aim?
The true teacher is not satisfied with second-rate work. He is not satisfied with directing his students to a standard lower than the highest which it is possible for them to attain. He cannot be content with imparting to them only technical knowledge, with making them merely clever accountants, skillful artisans, successful tradesmen. It is his ambition to inspire them with principles of truth, obedience, honor, integrity, and purity–principles that will make them a positive force” (Education, 1903, p. 29, 30).
Why wouldn’t more people want to scramble into careers in education?
Next time, let’s talk about the power of leadership development.