In the highest sense the work of education and the work of redemption are one, for in education, as in redemption, ‘other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 3:11. – Ellen G. White, Education, page 30.
Since these words have been written, many an educator has endeavored to grasp the meaning of this phrase. How can the work of education and the work of redemption possibly be one?
We are redeemed from our sins through God’s loving forgiveness. We confess our wrongs and beg for reconciliation, and God answers by accepting us into his Kingdom. Because God has forgiven us, we act according to His will, which changes our hearts and our behavior. We learn about God’s will by spending time with Him, and His presence in our lives changes us – by beholding we are changed.
Because we have been changed by God’s forgiveness and our connection with him, we act towards our students like God acts towards us. We have experienced God, the ultimate educator, and we follow His example, for he has shown us how it is done. When children are unruly or difficult, we accept them with loving forgiveness, for God is our example. Redeemed educators share their own redemptive experience with their household, their children, and their students.
Students who are dealt with in a way that reflects God’s love and forgiveness understand the love of their educators, and this encourages the students to follow their example. When educators spend time in loving companionship with those who are entrusted to them, their students will naturally try to imitate them. By showing our students a model of God’s redemptive power, we encourage them toward their own connection with God and toward behavior that reflects that connection. Thus, the best educators will always try to imitate God’s redemptive pattern in their own efforts in the classroom.
It is my deep conviction that realizing the connection between redemption and education is an essential catalyst for the spiritual growth of educators. By understanding this connection, we become aware of our sacred responsibility of saving young people’s lives for eternity by pointing our students to the love and care of our Heavenly Father through our own example. Recognizing this responsibility leads us to practice redemptive education and to share our heritage of divine presence and forgiveness with the next generation. By behaving in this way toward our students, and toward everyone we encounter, we act according to the word of Jesus himself: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).