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Being Made New in Christ

Throughout this school year, I’ve been meeting with VCS parents, grandparents, and supporters of the school. I’ve appreciated and valued these meetings - I’ve had about 30 of them so far. They’ve given me an opportunity to get to know you and listen to what you love about VCS, as well as hear your input regarding our rooftop project and VCS in general. I wish I was able to meet with more families at a faster pace!

Recently, I met with a parent of two children who recognizes that we are a diverse community and will not always be uniform in our understandings of Scripture. However, she so loves that VCS teachers desire to be in relationship with students and pray for them. She talked about how the staff get to know her kids and show real, true care for them.

2 Corinthians 5:14 & 17 reads:

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and
therefore all died…Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!

I also find The Message translation of this passage helpful:

"Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they
look….Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah
gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life emerges! Look at
it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him,
and then called us to settle our relationships with each other."

In Genesis 1:26-27 we learn that all people are made in the image of God. As image-bearers, all people ought to be treated with respect, dignity, and care. God desires to be in relationship with each of us and to see us follow Him.

In the New Testament, Jesus encounters Pharisees who attempt to trap him by asking Jesus which of the laws was the most important. Jesus replied, in summary: Love God, love others; all the law hangs on these two commands. (Mathew 22:37)

Jesus calls us to love and respect others, our neighbours. That sounds straightforward but as we all know, it’s not. Life is complex and messy. Kids are complex and sometimes do surprising things. Sin impacts everything and every relationship. We need Jesus and lots of forgiveness too!

As we raise our children and work with our students, how do we help them understand that we love and care for them even as we guide them in ways they may not like or understand? It’s hard.

What’s clear to us is that Jesus invites us into a relationship with Him and each other. As Christian educators, we are taught that relationships are extremely important.

Jesus consistently challenged the legalism of the religious leaders, who valued the law, rules, and traditions above relationships. Need healing, but it was the Sabbath? Jesus chose to heal, rather than follow the strict Sabbath rules, even under threat of death (Mark 3:1-6).

When we focus on relationships we can still guide, correct, and help students learn accountability. It’s not one or the other. To be focused on relationships doesn’t mean we’re soft pushovers.

It’s easy to get frustrated or down when it seems that our investment in relationships with our children or students isn’t paying dividends, isn’t producing fruit.

A pastor reminded me that the process of being made new in Christ often happens gradually. That’s so true. And that’s why we try to take the long view when working with our kids. We may not see much growth from week to week, but if we believe and trust that the Spirit is present and working on their hearts, we can have hope that through our relationships God is at work.

Even as Jesus continually works on our own hearts, as we ourselves are slowly transformed, we are less likely to see people for who they are not, and rather see them for the image-bearers that they are.

Following Jesus means we’ll continue this hard, redemptive work in a fallen world, of loving others, of building relationships.

Let’s be encouraged by the vision cast in Revelations 7:9. One day we will be at the foot of Jesus, worshipping him with people from every nation, every tribe, every language. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, transformation is a living reality. That’s reason to give thanks!