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Back in the ’90s there arose a short-lived trend among professing Christians of wearing bracelets that displayed the capital letters “WWJD” (What Would Jesus Do). This new fad caused people to talk about Jesus Christ and how Christians should actually try to model Jesus in all areas of their lives.
The Bible teaches us, “Whoever says he abides in him [Jesus] ought to walk in the same way in which He walked” (1 John 2:6), and “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Sixteenth-century pastor John Calvin referred to Jesus as the “Grand Model” for all Christians to follow and learn from. Jesus modeled so much for us during his earthly ministry. For example, He modeled how to pray, how to handle temptation, how to speak the truth in love, how to stand against evil, and how to really train and disciple others.
Christian parents should look at Jesus’ life as the perfect example of how parents should train, teach and love their own little disciples – their children. It is interesting to note that Jesus, on occasion, publicly called His disciples “children” (Mark 10:24). Eighteenth-century Bible commentator John Gill noted “it was common with the Jews to call [their] disciples … ‘children.'” When reading the gospels we get an intimate view of how Jesus discipled and loved His own “children.”
We see in Jesus’ method of discipling three primary things: teaching, mentoring, and investment of time.
Teaching – Jesus is the supreme “good Teacher” (Luke 18:18). He taught His disciples daily (Luke 19:47); He traveled all over the region with His disciples as they watched Him teach others (Luke 23:5); other religious leaders recognized that Jesus was a teacher sent by God (John 3:2); Jesus’ apostles acknowledged that His teachings were the words of eternal life (John 6:68); Jesus acknowledged He was their Lord and Teacher (John 13:14); and even immediately after Jesus’ physical resurrection, some of His followers continued to call him Teacher (John 20:16).
Mentoring – Jesus’ teaching style was far more than just talk and passing on “head knowledge”; He lived the life for them to see and follow. His disciples saw Jesus often go away to pray on His own, which prompted them to ask how they, too, should pray (Luke 11:1). His apostles saw Jesus heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead and preach the gospel. Later, after years of pouring His life into them, Jesus then confidently sent them on the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:16-20).
Time Investment – The disciples did not take a class with Jesus, nor did they spend a mere semester under Jesus’ training; rather, they spent about three and a half years with Jesus, with no spring or summer breaks, no Christmas vacations. This was a 24-hour/365-day-a-year “course” taught by the greatest Teacher this world has ever known. Jesus knew that you had to devote quality time with people to really make a powerful impact on their lives. Dr. John MacArthur points out in his book “Twelve Ordinary Men,” “[The disciples] could listen to His [Jesus’] teaching, ask Him questions, watch how He dealt with people, and enjoy intimate fellowship with Him in every kind of setting. … He graciously encouraged them, lovingly corrected them, and patiently instructed them. That is how the best learning always occurs. It isn’t just information passed on; it’s one life invested in another.”
Jesus, the master Teacher, certainly taught His disciples formally, but they also shared life experiences, traveling and breaking bread for a number of years together. He mentored them, modeled how to truly walk with God and ultimately trained them to be launched into the world for His glory. He encouraged them, He disciplined them, He rebuked them, and He loved them. Jesus invested His life into theirs and certainly did not send His “children” away to others for their education but “kept them” and “guarded them” (John 17:12) until it was time to send them into the world.
In a very real sense, Jesus homeschooled His apostles. Christian homeschooling looks a lot like how Jesus trained His own, and His “children” eventually went on to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6)!
Today many Christian parents are waking up to the fact that no one can do a better job in training and discipling their children than they can. Just like Jesus, most Christian homeschooling parents are teaching their own, mentoring their own, spending quality time with their own, literally pouring their lives into their kids, instead of subcontracting virtual strangers to teach their precious children.
Jesus teaches us that truly effective discipling and training is done one-on-one, and it takes time and much sacrifice. Recent studies prove that Jesus’ style of teaching is by far the most effective of any method, and the positive results are the proof. Dr. Brian Ray’s research with thousands who were home-educated and now adults shows that less than 4 percent of homeschooled youth disown their faith by the time they reach their first year of college. This is literally the exact opposite of all the sobering research showing an approximate 90 percent rate of children from Christian families leaving the church by age 18. What a difference godly discipling makes!
This puts to rest the salt-and-light argument that many uninformed Christian parents use as an excuse to keep their kids in public schools. The overwhelming majority of children from Christian homes are being converted to an unbiblical worldview in the public school arena.
The false and dangerous notion that a public school education is actually “neutral” ought to be silenced by the plentiful research showing that government schools are in inculcating about 9 out of 10 children to think like Marxist-socialists. Dr. R.C. Sproul reminds us, “There is no such thing as a neutral education. Every education curriculum has a controlling worldview behind it and through it.” The curriculum in our public schools is far from being neutral.
Parents, may we learn from the Teacher and obediently embrace His model and method for training the disciples God has placed under our roofs. When Jesus taught His closest disciples, they often sat at His feet (Luke 10:39). When it comes to parenting, the most effective and positive life-changing teaching happens at our own feet. By sending them away for 180 days a year, someone else takes over the privilege of teaching, modeling and investing about 1,100 hours per year into your children’s lives.
Jesus knew that the best way to train His “children” to become what He wanted them to be was to live with them, love them, sacrifice for them, model the godly life and invest His life into theirs. This all happens within the context of the family. Dr. Voddie Baucham’s words are a good reminder to us all of this fact: “God has designed your family – not the youth group, not the children’s ministry, not the Christian school, but your family – as the principle discipling agent in your children’s lives. ”
The question is not What Would Jesus Do with His “children”? But what did Jesus do with His “children.” He homeschooled them.
David d’Escoto is a teaching elder and the co-author of “The Little Book of Big Reasons to Homeschool.”He and his bride of 20 years, Kim, have homeschooled their six children for over 13 years.