Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Reflection on "The Prodigal God" for Dorothy Sayers Classical School

[This year, tutors at Dorothy Sayers Classical School in Louisville, KY were required to read The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. We were then required to write a 2-3 page reflection paper on how this book can impact our school and the teaching in our particular classrooms. Below is my reflection.]

The most obvious way that The Prodigal God may be applied at Dorothy Sayers Classical School is in terms of classroom management and student discipline. When it comes to student behavior, it is easy for tutors and administrators to focus on outward conformity. But, as we are reminded from the example of the elder son in the parable of the Two Lost Sons from Luke 15, students can live as the very picture of moral uprightness, and yet miss the whole point of the true Christian faith. In all of our rule-giving– an activity that is absolutely necessary for a school to run according to proper order– we must stress that our following guidelines neither constitutes the basis upon which we are accepted by God nor the goal to which we are striving as a school. Rather, our focus is (as Keller explains) faith in Jesus, resting in His work, and receiving a new identity and relationship with God. A sensitive conscience, and (in the case of our students) a proper submission to authority, is to be an outworking of our identity in Christ, as we, in gratitude for what He has done, seek to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matt 22:37).

            In many ways, I have seen the principals mentioned in this book already put into practice at DSCS. In our tutor meetings, the concept of dealing graciously with students is commonly mentioned. However, The Prodigal God is a good reminder. Furthermore, Keller’s exploration of the parable of the Two Lost Sons is beneficial in that it concretizes “grace,” which can tend to be an amorphous concept in our thinking. We can clearly imagine two students: one who tends to act like the younger son, and one who tends to act like the older. Part of our responsibility at DSCS is to realize the need for grace in the life of the “older son” as well as the younger.

            In my classroom, as a tutor, I can apply the content of The Prodigal God first through direct instruction. One blessing of teaching at DSCS is that the students are expected to memorize Scripture as part of their education. This year, the students are memorizing Matthew 5, which is the first part of the Sermon on the Mount. In this chapter, Jesus is constantly pointing to heart issues in a similar way as He does in the parable of the Two Lost Sons. Through leading my students in discussing the implications of Jesus’ words such as, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20), I can (with the help of the Holy Spirit) point my students to their need for grace.

            In addition to direct instruction, I can apply the content of The Prodigal God in my classroom by means of example. As I begin each class in prayer, I can model prayers that not only ask God to meet our temporal needs (though such requests are important and necessary), but that also praise God for who He is as a gracious Father who has secured redemption for His people in Christ.

            Finally (at least, “finally” in terms of this reflection), I can apply the content of The Prodigal God in my classroom by challenging my students to analyze their literature in terms of biblical categories of thought. Keller provides a wonderful model of how to do this in the seventh chapter, as he examines the storyline of Babette’s Feast, and then he demonstrates some unresolved tensions in the book: tensions that can only be resolved through the work of God’s grace in Christ. Much of the great literature that we examine at DSCS– such as the tales of Shakespeare, which my students are currently reading– contain similar unresolved tensions, drawing (at least partially) upon biblical categories, and showing some of the confusion of this fallen world, but not pointing readers directly to the work of Christ. One of my responsibilities in teaching reading comprehension is to help students understand what the author is conveying, and then to help students understand what the author may leave out: the grand resolution that comes in Christ Jesus.


Blogger pepisteuka said...

Thank you, Andrew! This was encouraging. A great review.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Andrew Lindsey said...

Thank you for the kind comment!

3:18 PM  

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