“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I spent sometime earlier this month reading through quotes of the Civil Rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rev. King’s inspiration for his work and writings came from a deeply rooted Christian upbringing and beliefs. For almost every quote I read, a Biblical equivalent came to mind. His words resonate, not only for their wisdom, but because they speak to the very essence of who Christ calls us to be.
First, it occurred to me that the above quote about education is exactly what a Christian classical education is all about, and what we hope to achieve here at CSA. We do not simply want our children to be repositories of facts and figures. That would make them little more than computers or encyclopedias. We hope to give them the tools to put the knowledge they gain to the service of humanity. With a Christ-centered point of view, we hope they will be ready to serve others when and where the need arises. After all, “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Matthew 8:36
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” This second quote from Dr. King brings to mind Christ’s statement, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 Our lives gain deeper meaning and are more fulfilling when serving others. We hope to teach our students by deeds as well as by our words or the stories we read, that giving of our time in good works is among our highest calling. In small ways each and every day we – as teachers and parents – can model for them kindness, generosity, caring, and sharing as ways to serve and do for others.
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” This third quote from Dr. King reminds me of Christ’s encouragement to us to love one another and to forgive one another. Christ forgave those who had persecuted Him and crucified Him. He asked God the Father to forgive them. This divine love (αγαπη) allows us to see Christ in everyone we meet, even those whom we may call an enemy. The world will become a better place when we are able to put these words into action. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45
The Rev. King’s words resonate today, more than ever, and are guideposts in developing the character that is so essential in a Christian classical education.