VCS Insights Volume 2, Issue 15 Feb 2010
What Does Righteousness Mean to our Students?
Dr. Dennis Demuth
As presented by Bruce Atteberry, 6th Grade.
I took a “raise your hand” survey in my 6th and 7th grade classes. The first question I asked was, “How many of you in this class are born again?” All students raised their hands in response. The second question was, “How many of you are righteous?” Only one or two students raised their hands (and that was reluctantly). My third question was, “What does righteousness mean?” Titus 2:11-14
The last question was answered by “being perfect,” “not making mistakes,” “not sinning,” and other answers along these lines. It became clear that the students had no concept of what “righteousness” means (much like many adults). They knew when they were “bad,” but they really did not know how to respond about being “good.”
I believe one area that I need to be more aware of is located in these sentences from the above quote.
Thus, we might say that "living" or "how to live" is God's curriculum. In this respect, Christ (or God through the medium of his grace) followed a long line of teachers. Moreover, Paul's material employs the Greek teaching model in this description. In Greek thought, education (paideia; here the verbal form of this term occurs) produces virtue. (Biblegateway, 2010, para. 8)
So if it is “God’s curriculum;” then it should also be our curriculum. We should be showing them they are to identify with Christ, and who they are in Christ. Philemon 6 says it this way, “6
that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of
every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus (NKJV). The Amplified Bible says it this way, “6[And I pray] that the participation in and sharing of your faith may produce and promote full recognition and appreciation and understanding and precise knowledge of every good [thing] that is ours in [our identification with] Christ Jesus [and unto His glory].”
Good and Simple
For those students who are not born-again we need to start to make a “disconnect” between the visible behaviors and how God sees them. Romans 16:19 says it this way, “For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” The word “simple” means “of the mind, without a mixture of evil, free from guile, innocent, simple” (Strong’s, 2010). If we teach the student what is good, he or she will recognize evil because it is the opposite of good.
This does not mean we are not to correct the errant behavior, but we need to not get the student to identify with the behavior in a negative way. We want them to identify with their potential. We could then start with those students who are born-again by stating, “You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. You are no longer a sinner, but a saint. So, why are you doing the wrong thing?” We have to start identifying the student with who he or she is in relation to Christ, and then go to the issue at hand. The “heart” of the problem generally is a “heart problem” found in the student’s identity.
Grace is given to us by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can do nothing to earn grace, because if we could then it is not grace it is works. So, as Christ has forgiven us we need to walk in that forgiveness toward others and show them how to forgive themselves. We have to get them to change their identity. We need to get locked in to “God’s curriculum.”