You would think that a Christian education combined with Christian worship would equip the next generation in faithfulness. After all, we are regularly told that we are losing the next genera- tion because they go to college unprepared. When they leave our nest, ruthless secular professors are waiting to snatch their underdeveloped faith and to push them toward a lecherous, godless life.
There is no doubt that this is often true. That is why worldview training is essential for culti- vating faithfulness. Yet, that is not the total answer. I was reminded of this during a conversation I had with a friend one normal Tuesday morning. We were talking about his story, a story I deemed a success story. He spent his high school years at a Christian school. After that he attended a Christian college that I admire, and now he is serving as a youth pastor. He has done it all while maintaining a vibrant walk with Christ.
This seemed right and normal, but he quickly shattered that illusion. As he spoke about his friends from his Christian high school, he said that almost 80% of his graduating class no longer pro- fessed faith. Instead they are a mixture of atheist or agnostics.
“How does this happen?” I asked. He was quick to answer. He said there was a spirit around his high school, a characteristic way that things were done, that repelled students. He then described a joyless, legalistic culture that emphasized what one could not do. It was a culture that spoke almost exclusively about what we must do to the neglect of what He has done. There was such an emphasis on what you could not do, that they never learned to love what Jesus has done and what he has freed them to be and do, leaving the heart unengaged. Hence, when they left the school, they also left the faith.
How can we avoid falling into the trap? I am not so presumptuous as to say that I have the answer. But I think one piece of the answer is found in Matthew 4. This is the famous temptation narrative where Jesus battles Satan and wins.
The narrative builds as Satan tempts Jesus again and again. The climax comes when Satan coldly takes Jesus to a very high mountain and shows him all the kingdoms of the world. What a sight it must have been! Consider the splendor and majesty before his eyes. Think of the power that would be hidden within each kingdom. With that in view, Satan makes an offer, “All of these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
The battle lines are drawn. Will Jesus give in? Will he stay true to his father’s mission and obey all the way to the cross? We do not have to wait long for an answer. Immediately Jesus gives a command, “Be gone Satan.” “For it is written,” he continues, “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.”
With that, the battle is over. Yet we should not leave the scene too quickly. I believe Jesus reveals an important principle, a principle captured in his word order. Notice what comes first. Jesus does not first speak of service and then move to worship. He instead says that we must worship God and then serve. By saying it this way, Jesus reminds us of the priority of worship as the fuel for service. We do not serve God to gain from God. We serve God because we have already gained from God.
This means that worship is the heartbeat of a healthy Christian life. Consequently, we believe at CLA that worship is the heartbeat of our school. While we spend much time in class, learning to love God with our minds, we also have dedicat- ed time to embrace God with our hearts through worship. That is why we set aside time every week for every student and staff member to worship God. And we invite you to join us as we worship Him with passion and then serve out of the over- flow of that passion.
Thanks for joining us on this journey.