Unity in Homeschooling

We have returned from the annual CHEA conference with a big picture view of what is happening in the homeschooling movement.  Woven within many of the educational sessions was a concern that homeschoolers are becoming apathetic and lack understanding that the fight for homeschooling freedom continues. We need to support each other to maintain our current liberty. There is a fracturing effect that is happening among homeschool families that we have the ability to thwart. 

In the book of John, starting in chapter 13, it says that “Jesus knew his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father”.  He spoke to the disciples of the betrayal of Judas and His own death.  He spoke of the coming Holy Spirit and the fact that the world would hate them because it hated him first.  He was preparing them for his absence in the flesh and His teaching culminates in His prayer to the Father in chapter 17.  In the midst of this prayer, Jesus says the following (bold emphasis added):

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your  name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:9-23 ESV)

In this one prayer, we see an overwhelming desire for unity, to be one, is at the heart of Christ.  How seriously, as Christians, do we understand the concept of unity within the body of Christ in our own lives and what does it take to be unified as a body of believers?  What does this have to do with homeschooling?

There are currently over 9,000 denominations of Protestant Christians in the world.  They range from familiar names like Baptist, Reformed, Presbyterian and Lutheran to the not so familiar such as Friends, Salvationist, and Waldensian. (1)  This fragmentation began in the first century and has exponentially continued through today.   

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:10-13 ESV)

Division has become so commonplace within the body of Christ that we have become desensitized to it.  We cling to our differences and are proud of our independence.  However, this independent spirit that is pervasive in our culture is not meant for separation among Christ’s people.  Christ prays that we will be one.  We are to build each other up in the faith.  Paul states to the elect in Rome:

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:1-7 ESV)

We are to “bear with” one another.  Not in a begrudging way, but in the way that Christ bears with us.  Because of His love for us, he continually encourages and reproaches us with Scripture.  Our almighty Lord, the creator of the universe, became flesh and died on the cross for us and He says that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)  We may have differences of opinion, but we have the same God.  We believe that Scripture is His inerrant Word.  This foundation is secure and because we have been called out of this world and into His marvelous light, we should be able to work through our differences and use our spiritual gifts to build up each other for the glory of God.

Homeschooling is not immune to the fracturing effects of discord.  The homeschooling movement became active in the 1970’s as the public school system began outlawing Bible reading and prayer.  The motivation of the largest segment of homeschoolers at that time was to impart a biblically based education, which they could no longer get in the public school. Today, this is still the primary motivation for homeschool families.

However, most of us who homeschool today were not involved with the fight for homeschooling freedom.  I am sure that some of us were not even born yet.  Families stepped out from government control and risked jail and the possible loss of their children to stand up for that right. They were united in their efforts, communicating with each other and supporting one another through these trials.  They developed local homeschool groups and created curriculum.  They laid the foundation for what has become one the fastest growing segments of the K-12 education system.

In a speech entitled “Industrial Management in a Republic”, the idea of a Fatal Sequence was mentioned.  It’s premise was that all republics disintegrate due to forces from within.  The progression goes as follows:

Bondage to Spiritual Faith;

Spiritual Faith to Courage;

Courage to Freedom;

Freedom to Abundance;

Abundance to Selfishness;

Selfishness to Apathy;

Apathy to Dependency;

Dependency to Bondage (2)

The homeschooling movement is in “Abundance”.  It is legal in all 50 states to homeschool and there exists a plethora of curriculum as well as online classes for every subject imaginable.  The public’s attitude has changed significantly over the past 15 years. The success of homeschooling is common knowledge – from winners of the National Spelling Bee to the excellence in standardized testing results. 

With success come knockoffs – replicators.  There are now not only Christians who homeschool, but non-Christians who just want a better education for their children. They have built charter schools for such an endeavor.  The charter school movement has grown to more than 5,277 schools operating nationwide in 2010 – 2011, serving 1.7 million students. (3)  But the replication is just a shadow of the real thing.   We must always remind ourselves why we home educate. We know that an education apart from God is no education at all.  He is the creator, the author of all things.  His Word speaks to all areas of life and is the cornerstone to the successes that have been achieved through homeschooling thus far.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

If we see someone struggling in their homeschool, let us offer a hand.  If we don’t see the classes we want at co-op, let’s work together to figure out how to get them established.  We must capitalize on this abundance and not fall to the next stage of progression – selfishness.  It’s not just about the needs of our own family; it is about the building up of the body of Christ.  Let us not cut ourselves off from the body or create a separate “denomination”. Our gifts were given to us by the Holy Spirit and they are for the common good. Let us glorify God with unity.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ESV)

Let us utilize our independent spirit to break away from government control and the secular indoctrination of our schools, but not from each other.  As we go through these summer months, all of the members of DCHEA are on my heart.  I am praying we will continue to seek God for His continued provision knowing that we are doing the work that He has called us to do.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)

In His Service,

Stefani Kerr

Bibliography

1. Ostling, Richard N. World Christan Encylopedia. s.l. : Associated Press, 2001.

2. 250th meeting of the National Conference Board. Henning Webb Prentis, Jr. New York : s.n., 1943.

3.  National Charter School Resource Center. Frequently Asked Questions. Charter School Center. [Online] http://www.charterschoolcenter.org/page/frequently-asked-questions#What%20role%20do%20state%20governments%20play?.