October 12, 2020
“He has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”.
Black lives matter vs. All lives matter.
The crux of the centuries-old American race story summarized in six simple words.
If that wasn’t enough, in the backdrop is a global pandemic, economic upheaval, and political polarization. That doesn’t include epic wildfires out west and across the land, violence in the streets, and another contentious presidential election right around the corner. Arguments and debates fill the news, the internet, and social media sites. They are often marked by insults, anger, and intense emotion even by people that profess faith in Jesus Christ.
The words of late author and apologist Francis Schaffer ring as true today as when they were first written: “How then shall we live?”
Grand Rapids Christian Schools isn’t immune to this societal tsunami. The emails, calls, and conversations we have had in this early school year have borne the strain of this larger struggle. As leaders entrusted with the sacred stewardship of this institution beginning its second century, we feel the weight of moment and the urgency to rise to meet it.
To do this well, we look to the Bible as our guide, being reminded of two things that God's inspired word makes very clear:
- God is our Creator.
- We are all made in His image.
With this truth as our foundation, all lives do indeed matter. And because this is true, Black lives must matter too. We do not state this as spokespeople of any political platform or out of our institutional support of Black Lives Matter's organization platform, which includes beliefs that are at times inconsistent with the doctrinal standards on which Grand Rapids Christian Schools are based.
Rather, we state this claim based on the Scriptural platform God lays out in Holy Scripture.
That is why, at Grand Rapids Christian Schools, we oppose racism and discrimination in all of its forms, strive to give voice to the voiceless, and wisely walk this path of justice-filled grace together.
As Paul writes in Galatians 6.2, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
- In order to completely wade into conversations of race, we must elevate our discussions beyond political polarization, partisanship, and cultural divisions toward — instead — the heaven-based mindset to which Christ has called us.
- Injustice is wrong. Injustice is inconsistent with God’s plan for His creation.
- When our own political bias threatens to negatively impact our ability to create a learning environment that helps students understand the ideologies and distinctions between party platforms, we are called to exhibit the humility to rebalance, refocus, and reframe our own ideological beliefs, keeping Jesus central at all times.
- Political polarization divides rather than unites, and we are called to demonstrate respect toward political perspectives other than our own.
- When one of us hurts, we all do. When one of our students feels pain, we all do. When one of our families is distressed, we all are.
That is what we are called to do as we prepare young people to be effective servants of Christ in contemporary society. So in this time of great uncertainty, we lift and ask that you join us in this prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father:
You have called us to serve as Christian educators — teachers, administrators, mentors, colleagues, and servants. You have guided us to know and respond to your calling and have filled us with a desire to teach your children, nurture their faith, and further your kingdom. You have walked alongside us on the paths you laid out for us.
Throughout our journeys, we are comforted by your presence and the knowledge that your own journey was filled with obstacles more daunting than our own.
We find ourselves today at a time where there is much uncertainty, a time when communities throughout our country are experiencing the realities of racism, violence, wildfires, a global pandemic, and political unrest.
- Grant us the assurance of your everlasting Presence in the midst of the challenges we face, courage to stand against racism and acts of violence, and wisdom to guide students in understanding your example of loving others as you love us.
As Christian educators, you have placed us in positions of authority and influence. This reality is a privilege that comes with great responsibility as we guide students with clarity on paths that lead to hope and deepened faith in you.
- Grant us the wisdom and ability to discern your will and Christ’s teaching as reflected in scripture.
- Grant us humble spirits that reflect Him.
- Empower us with the Holy Spirit to create opportunities for students to engage in meaningful dialogue, understand that racism and injustice are results of a broken world and not matters of opinion, and respectfully appreciate in Christian community one another’s points of view on the societal and current political realities we face today.
Heavenly Father, you have gifted us with the ability to think for ourselves and express our thoughts and opinions. Today, we find ourselves in a culture that empowers us to express personal points of view, often without regard to the impact those expressions have on others. Opinions regarding our current national dialogue often are expressed with outrage and untruths and have divided our land.
Social media has become how we stay informed and how we inform others of what we believe to be right and wrong with the world. This reality is often void of opportunities for true dialogue and fails to develop students’ full understanding of and appreciation for the complexities of the societal challenges we face today.
- Empower us with the ability to recognize our unique calling and opportunity as Christian educators whom you have selected to strengthen communities of knowledge, developing students’ awareness and respect for others’ perspectives in environments that foster rather than impede dialogue.
- Guide us in ways to use social media that reflect your goodness, see these tools as gifts from you, and utilize them in ways that are thoughtful, respectful, and reflective of our positions of influence to reflect your glory.
- Grant us understanding of the impact we have in the lives of our students and within the Grand Rapids Christian Schools community.
- May our expressions reflect our understanding of the diversity of thought within our student body and the families they represent, and may we give all students equal voice.
- Use us in our respective roles as agents of grace and peace.
You have gifted us to live in a land where freedom is celebrated and personal opinions may be expressed. Too often, these liberties are abused and create a culture that leads to polarization, lack of understanding and respect for others, and broken relationships.
- Fill us with an understanding of where we fall short and a desire to overcome our own shortcomings.
- Grant us the wisdom to know how to develop students who reflect your will and view multiple perspectives through a Christian lens, carefully discern complex issues, and demonstrate respect for the opinions expressed within our broadly diverse school community.
- Provide us wisdom to teach and model for students how to agree and disagree from a Christian perspective — without fear.
- Grant us the wisdom to create learning environments that encourage students to be comfortable expressing their thoughts without criticism or ridicule.
- Help us teach our students to value, respect, and celebrate every human life without regard for racial, gender, or socio-economic differences.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for calling us to strengthen your purpose rather than our own and draw us closer to you as we journey down this path.
As servants of Christ in contemporary society, strengthen our resolve to live lives rooted in love, respect, and honor of others; enable us to be slow to anger; persevere; and surrender ourselves to your mercy and Christ’s authority.
May our response reflect Him amidst the noise, confusion, and uncertainty in which we find ourselves, and may it enable us to realize the true hope found only in your Word.
In Jesus' name,
Rockford Christian Principal
GRCES Evergreen Principal
GRCES Iroquois Principal