Signs of Spring in full swing had us rejoicing this week! We continued our celebration of the Resurrection through Eastertide. The students blessed us by lifting their voices together in rounds, hymns, and psalms at our Resurrection Concert and then followed the festivities with families and friends at our Resurrection Ball. One grandparent noted with thanksgiving that we as God’s people get to proclaim His goodness when we honor Him through a culture of festival in His name, just as He commanded His good blessings on Israel in the Old Testament. One of our students shared that this was just the type of event she could imagine herself returning to as an alumna someday. Another delighted in dancing with both older and younger students, suggesting that such opportunities really make CCA more like a family than just a school. We thank the Lord for these gifts. And as the sun came out, our spirits were lifted as we soaked up the glorious rays together on our playground. Meanwhile we had visits from a record number of prospective families at our open house. Just like all things in Spring, growth is happening everywhere at CCA!
Metaphors abound for growth in the Christian life, both for individuals and for the body of Christ. And no wonder! In our fallen state, we have turned inward and away from God, growing colder and colder in our love for Him. While Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we find ourselves quite unlike Him in our natural state. Yet when He gives us new hearts, through the work and power of the Holy Spirit, we begin a lifelong process of growth and change. If Jesus is unchanging, and if we are naturally unlike Him, then the only way we can become like Him is to change–to be changed–into His image and likeness. The process of restoring and re-ordering our loves happens gradually as we grow through the transforming and renewing of our hearts, souls, and minds. Is it any wonder we find some many poetic pictures of the process given to describe this reality? Consider the metaphor of planted seeds, sprouting plants, budding trees, and ripening fruit. Or consider the picture of a little bit of leaven working its way through a lump of dough, or the parable of a mustard seed growing into a mighty tree to describe the spreading of God’s kingdom throughout the earth. New Testament authors use pictures of our physical and developmental growth from infants to adults to express the invisible realities of our souls maturing.
But growth in and of itself is not inherently good. The Scriptures regularly warn of growing complacent, hard-hearted, cold, weary, or wanton. Just as faith is only good if its object is good, so growth is only good if it is towards a good end. We would not call the growth of a cancerous tumor good, nor would we think of a growing threat as something positive. It matters very much what kind of growth we are feeding, what kind of kingdom we are building. Are we edifying the body of Christ for the building up of His Church, or are we building up our own ambitions and kingdoms as monuments to ourselves? As in other areas of life, we cannot claim neutrality. As dynamic beings made in the image of God, we cannot stand still. We are always progressing and growing either more towards God’s will and likeness or further away from that likeness. As C.S. Lewis so aptly suggests in The Great Divorce, we all will find one day that all our lives have been more or less drawing nearer to or escaping farther from God, our story arcs telling of a long love journey towards Christ and His people or towards ourselves and loneliness. A classical Christian education challenges students to grow towards a love of Christ by forming virtuous habits of thought, word, and deed, proclaiming His sovereign and glorious rule over all knowledge, wisdom, and purpose. Rightly educated, and with God’s power and grace, we expect our graduates one day to recognize every discreet fact and figure and force in this world to proclaim our Father God’s handiwork through Christ the Son by the beautifying power of His Spirit. In other words, as we grow, we should expect our lives to become more and more of a doxology to our loving God as He helps us grow individually for the purposes of the kingdom He is growing corporately. So long as CCA is part of that plan, we should expect and hope for growth, sometimes in numbers, but always in our education through what and how we rightly love one another.
One final thought on growth. As someone who grew up in Idaho, I remember being fascinated by the tension between wanting to be known and famous (as a city or state, not individually) such that everyone in the world would wish they could be so fortunate as me for living here, and the knowledge that if everyone really did decide to come to Idaho, it wouldn’t stay the same. I loved my state. I would regularly watch population changes in Idaho cities to see where my hometown ranked, but I would also bemoan the way my family’s favorite mountain lake community became discovered. It seems these tensions point to a fairly universal experience. The other day, one of our CCA students came to me with a poll he was conducting (presumably for one of his lessons in class), asking me whether I was for or against Idaho having more people. Now, if we’re honest, that’s a tough question. I wasn’t surprised to find that not a single person before me had answered in the positive. Whether you are new to Idaho or have been here for generations, I am sure you can relate. Yet I was struck in that moment just how different our perspective often is from God’s when it comes to people and growth. The truth is, this is not our kingdom to build. We don’t own this land or this state in any way that obligates God and His purposes to our debt. Like Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, we have the privilege of taking care of these cities and these hills while we await the return of our true King, Jesus Christ. He owns the cattle on the thousand hills, and He owns the hills. Who am I to say whether God wants more people here or there? What I do know is that God loves and begets life. He loves children. He loves seeing families grow. He loves seeing people thrive. He loves seeing His name glorified. He loves building choirs of multitudes to sing His praises. He loves communities transformed by the gospel. He fears no population surplus, no land shortage, no housing market, no building codes, no permitting process, no county planners, no traffic jams, no disappearing forests or prairies; He fears nothing but grows all things according to His good purposes. Thanks be to God. We get to rejoice in every soul He brings to Kootenai County as a potential brother or sister in the faith, as a prospective family for the kingdom. And while we know that growth can bring both friends and enemies, God will always shepherd His people to the verdant pastures. As CCA experiences both growth and limits to that growth, we can rest confident that we are in God’s hands and that He will prosper CCA according to His good purposes so long as He desires. May that be for generations to come!