Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8 NRSV
Midwestern Christian Academy has been around since 1956, in pretty much the same location where it is located right now. It has gone through many, many changes over that period of time as the neighborhood around it has changed. It has adapted to changes in the ethnic, racial, social and religious make-up of the surrounding neighborhood. It has been through several transitions, including once having a high school but then deciding not to have it as community needs changed. It has transitioned from being predominantly white, with a large number of Eastern European students enrolled to being predominantly Latino, with a large number of students whose families have Puerto Rican, Mexican, Central or South American backgrounds
There have been many circumstances which have threatened the existence of the school over the 65 years during which it has existed. Does that surprise you? Christian schools provide strong discipleship alongside a student’s mastery of required core subjects like mathematics and science. Students get instruction in Biblical truth every day, not only in a Bible class, but in every class Biblical truth is made relevant to the subject matter where it is applicable. The mission and purpose includes strengthening the faith of each student. So it becomes a target for the enemy’s prowling.
Division and disunity is one of the ways the enemy breaks up the effectiveness of a church and its ministry. Christianity is a very divided faith. There are sharp disagreements along denominational lines as people wrap their spiritual identity around a set of denominational distinctiveness instead of coming together around the identity of Christ as their Lord and Savior. Our mission and purpose as a Christian school, like that of any local church, is Christ-centered and focused on the truth that Jesus came to the world to save sinners. And that’s what unifies us as Christians.
Most Christian schools are made up of students who come from a wide variety of denominational and church backgrounds. Here at MCA, our students come from 50 different congregations in the city of Chicago, representing just about every denominational expression of Christian faith that exists, along with many churches not affiliated with a denomination, but are independent and autonomous.
And, like most Christian schools, our families, students and staff are unified in Christ, coming together every day to fulfill a mission and purpose that is centered in his will. We can expect that the devil, prowling around, will attack to try and prevent that from happening. The students who are in our schools represent the future of Christ’s church and they are learning all about it, along with their faith, every single day.
There are many things that have the potential to be divisive. We are going through a pandemic now, one that has disrupted lives, created uncertainty and taken more lives of our fellow citizens than any war our country has fought. That has certainly been divisive as people have very different ideas of how to handle the situation.
What we believe the Bible teaches about God and about Jesus can also be divisive, especially if we start thinking in terms of being the only ones who get it right or wanting to control what others say and do instead of focusing on our own spiritual development. When we find our identity resting on human definitions of terms, we lose our focus on Christ and we lose our sense of unity.
We’ve chosen Philippians 2:3-5 as our theme verse this year because it helps us put things in perspective and focus ourselves on Christ and the salvation he brings, not on the things in the world. When we follow Christ’s example of humility, emptying out our pride and selfish nature and doing what he did, considering the needs of others as more important than his own, we experience true joy.
Remember that acronym from camp? Jesus first, others second, yourself last. Joy. It’s hard for the enemy to win when everyone is full of joy.
May Jesus be lifted up every school day at Midwestern Christian Academy.