“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:1-5 New International Version).
For the Christian, one of the challenges in life is that he doesn’t always see the fruits of his labor on earth. In many facets of life, one can somewhat expect hard work to be rewarded, but when it comes to the work of God our rewards are not achieved on earth. In fact, they are not even earned by us. They are earned by Jesus. Following Jesus can be difficult in a world where a person’s worth is often associated with his or her wealth.
In education, we often say things like, “if at first you do not succeed, try, try again” and “you have to get back on that horse!” In Lutheran education we strive to show our students the value of hard work and dedication. These characteristics are important in building children up to become productive participants in a world that so desperately needs citizens and leaders that reflect our creator’s will.
The ongoing theme in those sayings and others like it is that eventually, if one is diligent they will win the prize. That said prize is often something of earthly value and received with much fanfare. And yet there are things that we are called by God to fulfill where our rewards are not received with earthly things. Caring for others or those in need does not earn one a prize. Standing up for a person that is being bullied often results in gained hardship on the side of the one standing up to the bully. When it comes to things of heavenly importance, the prize is often not seen on this side of heaven. In fact sometimes following Jesus’ example results in hardship and inconvenience. Instead of a reward, the follower of Jesus will sometimes face hardship. If one is not careful, they can easily become discouraged.
In everything, we need to focus on Christ, the one who showed us how to live. Often times Jesus faced struggles while following his father’s will. Often times the disciples of Jesus struggled because their focus was too much invested in things of this world. Like the disciples, we too can become distracted by things that in the end are not really all that important.
In Lutheran education, teaching children to follow Jesus is what we are about. In addition to teaching math, science, technology, etc., students in Lutheran schools are instructed on things that benefit them today and tomorrow, an education rooted in the master teacher, Jesus. The benefits of tomorrow are not often understood today, but the benefits are there. And they mattered so much that our heavenly father gave up his Son on a cross to achieve them for us.