19 Jan A Word From Mr. Satterly—January 19, 2017
Dear WA Community,
Once I heard a story about a New Jersey man traveling in the South for the first time. Being from Kentucky, I tend to be interested in such anecdotes. At any rate, part of the story includes an account of his first attempt to order breakfast at a local restaurant. After noting that several menu options included grits, he asked the waitress, “Miss, what is a grit?” Smiling she replied, “Honey, they don’t come by themselves.” Such is what it means to be a Christian, being Christian is a plural thing not singular. To be a Jesus follower is to be a part of a community as that is how God made us. Remember His pronouncement in the garden, “it is not good for man to be alone” or the impetus for creation—“let Us, make man in our image.”
Interestingly, this has been confirmed by social scientists in identifying that people need: a creed to hold on to, a calling to respond to, a hope to believe in, and a community to belong to. The modern church wrestles with this deeply felt longing by looking how to facilitate the link between belonging and believing. We need community. The problem with community, however, is that we are in it. Or to put another way, our communities are naturally imperfect because they consist of imperfect people whose actions violate the very community so desperately needed.
In recent days I’ve been profoundly reminded about this vexing problem. Our longing for community sometimes does not trump our natural inclination toward sin. Circumstances impact community as well—a sudden illness or loss, hardship or tragedy—can often change the nature of community. When these things encroach on community, our response should be framed by the Gospel as it compels us to engage the brokenness and mess with the intent on community restoration. Sometimes restoration requires a rearrangement or renegotiation of membership in the community, and it usually takes time. It always requires repentance and forgiveness. At the very least, Christian community has the responsibility to bear well one another’s burdens.
Why does this matter for school? Education is relational by nature. Learning happens best as people exchange information and ideas with one another. Christian education, as it reflects God’s nature, is even more dependent on community. The question, then, is how do we respond when community is violated and broken? That answer, I think, lies in the manner in which God responded to us. There are natural consequences and a pathway to redemption. This is the story of the Bible—creation, fall, redemption, restoration. So it should be with us.
Joel T. Satterly