You Can’t Kick God Out of School


This is not God.

Whenever there is a school shooting one of the responses I hear goes something like this: We’ve kicked God out of schools, so what do we expect?

The argument suggests that God is sufficiently barred from schools and unable to help with these tragedies. That somehow God is not allowed in our schools, as if God needs an official permission slip.

Let’s set aside the fact that these events don’t happen in countries that are far more secular anywhere close to the rate they happen here. This post isn’t about the how or why school shootings happen.

This is about a very feeble view of God.

To suggest that the hands of Gods are somehow tied because of the pluralization or secularization of our schools is dangerous. If your god is unable to work in schools because they no longer do public prayer or because they teach a particular view of human origins, you need a bigger God.

The God I know is not limited to places where they hang the 10 Commandments on the wall. The God I know is not restricted by walls or doors or boundary lines. This God cannot be kicked out of buildings because some people don’t stop to acknowledge the Creator before the day begins or because certain administrators chose to stop allowing school sponsored Bible study in classrooms.

Is our God that anemic? Is that all it takes to thwart God Almighty?

Forget spiritual warfare, just teach a class on evolution or make space for non-Christian kids and watch as God is weakened like Superman holding kryptonite.

This is not a god worth worshipping. This is not the God of Scripture and certainly not the God revealed in Jesus Christ.

That God showed up in the flesh in the midst a pagan empire. The Romans had many gods and worshipped them in ways contrary to what God wanted for humanity. God showed up anyway.

The early church thrived under persecution from authorities who had no interest in worshipping or acknowledging Jesus. They lost jobs and homes and lives because the powers-that-be weren’t going to let them refuse to bow to Caesar. God showed up anyway.

Abraham was an idol worshipper when God showed up. Adam and Eve were hiding when God showed up. Paul was a Christ-hating murderer when God showed up.

This is how God works.

The Church is growing in places like China where they cannot openly meet for worship or prayer. They have no political power or privilege and certainly no sway over what is taught in schools. God shows up anyway.

If our God is limited to working in people and places where God is already esteemed by all or most people then we are in trouble. There are few places where God can work. And there is little that can be accomplished.

But if our God is the God we see throughout Scripture and in Jesus, the one who moves toward the mess, toward the hard places, toward the people who appear furthest from faithfulness, then we can have incredible hope.

We have hope that God is not only at work in schools, but in all places. That God doesn’t need to wait to be honored to begin setting things right. That God is drawing all people toward redemption. We can have hope that God shows up.

We certainly have a problem in our country, but I wonder if it has more to do with our impotent view of God than the lack of classrooms teaching the Bible as curriculum. I wonder if it is because we’ve reduced God to a good luck charm or a genie we can pull out of a lamp whenever we need something rather than Lord of our lives.

I wonder if we’ve become so accustomed to setting the rules that we’ve forfeited our responsibility to teach our own children who God is and what God desires. I wonder if we’ve traded in a living faith for a set of check-listed actions and beliefs. I wonder if what we say we want and how we actually live are unaligned in any meaningful way.

We don’t need to reclaim the curriculum for God to be taught. We don’t need prayers over the loudspeaker for prayers to happen in classrooms. We don’t need power or position or permission slips for our God to come.

God is here. Present in this world.

And Christians are here too. God is present in them. Every time the doors open Christian students carry the love and truth of Christ with them. Every day teachers spend time teaching addition and Spanish and science and do so with the presence of God within them as well.

God has not been and cannot be removed from schools. Not the God I serve.

So may we know this present and powerful God. May we set aside any small view of God or faith. And may we believe that this God is at work. That this God goes with us to every dark corner, to every dentist office, and to every classroom. May we seek to live faithful to the grace that has been given us regardless of what the world around us does. And may we be part of the solution our country so desperately needs.

To My Daughter On The First Day of Kindergarten

pen-crayon-color-sharp-40757.jpegTo my daughter on the first day of kindergarten,

You have many steps to take on your way to graduation, but this first step is a big one. Here are some lessons I hope will help you as begin this journey:

Do your homework. That is probably hypocritical of me to say, but I have heard it helps. Study. Desire to learn. Better yourself, challenge yourself, equip yourself. Make the most of your education.

But don’t let your grades determine your value. Try hard, but be prepared to fall short sometimes. There are plenty of ways to learn and grow without having to get straight A’s. You may need to close a book and go outside to really understand something. Experience is a great teacher.

Realize popularity is fleeting. The cool kids won’t always be the cool kids. Pursue kindness and goodness instead. Those things will last forever and make you the type of person other people will eventually look up to. Don’t compromise your core values in order to feel like people care about you.

Don’t define yourself in comparison to other people. They may have different abilities or attributes, but they aren’t you and you are plenty wonderful. There is always going to someone else to compare yourself to, but there will never be another you. You do you.

At some point someone may tell you that you can’t do something because you are a girl. They are wrong.

Look for the people that don’t fit in and make a spot for them. Be a friend to everyone you can. Even the school bully will need someone to smile at them. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Don’t grow up too quickly. Run and skip and pick dandelions. You don’t have to be serious all the time. Laugh at yourself. Hold hands with your friends. Be a kid long into your high school years.

Don’t think you need a relationship to be loved or complete. You probably won’t worry about that for a while, but it is as true today as it will be when you are 45. Relationships can be good, bad, toxic, or forever, but they don’t make you any more or less of a person.

Know there will be a time when you lose. Maybe in the spelling bee or in gym class or on homecoming court. Losing is not the end of the world. It is not nearly as bad as being graceless. Win and lose with character.

Speak up. Voice your opinions and your concerns and your ideas. Your input matters. Don’t let others force you to keep quiet, even when your opinion is not popular. Your voice needs to be heard.

Change the world. Cure cancer or just make a difference in life of someone else. Whatever you do, know you are having an impact. Make your impact positive whenever and however you can.

Ask for help when you need it. Be nice to the lunch ladies. Don’t eat glue. Shine brightly. Pick up trash off the floor. Don’t run with scissors. Choose chocolate milk as often as possible. Love Jesus deeply.

And have fun.

You are loved. I’m proud of you already. I’m glad to call you mine.