Many of my friends say that they want their children to be “salt and light” in the non-Christian school. Shouldn’t we do that?
I appreciate their concern. Christians should be “salt and light” in the world. However, I think a closer look at the relevant passage and the context will help us see who that mission is actually directed toward.
In the gospels where this is written, salt and light are meant to be Christian influences in a dark and sinful world. It is only logical that in order to be a Christian influence in the culture, you must be a Christian. So, first you must ask yourself if your child is a born again believer.
Second, you must ask, “In what way can my child be salt and light? Is my 1st grader or 5th grader or 8th grader able to have an effect for Christ in the school? Can he effectively explain the gospel? Can he disciple a believer? Can he defend his faith when under attack? Can he withstand the constant bombardment of non-Christian teaching, non-Christian thoughts, and non-Christian acquaintances?”
In the vast majority of cases the answer would be no, and if the answer is no, then your child can’t be “salt and light.” In a rare case (an older, spitually mature young person) the answer may be yes, but you are obviously putting your child at great risk. Sending a child into an environment that is anti-Christian in philosophy is subjecting the mind of your child to daily teaching that is determined to replace God in every subject and every area of life. How many young Christians can even discern that they are being fed worldly ways of thought?
“Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).”
You might ask why the vast majority are not able to be “salt and light?” It is really quite simple—they are just kids, and kids are not the ones that Jesus told to be salt and light—it is adults. It is the same reason that children do not lead Bible studies, become pastors, or go to foreign countries as missionaries. They are not mature enough emotionally or spiritually, and for that matter, can’t even provide for their own physical needs. They are at a time in their life when their primary function is to be a good student, not someone who teaches or disciples others. They are still being trained for adulthood and are still in the care and direction of their parents.
Additionally, Christian parents may be fooled into thinking that their child has a salt and light effect for Jesus by simply being in a non-Christian environment. Again, this is not based on the Biblical directive addressed to men and women who can be salt and light – mature Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit and are equipped to restrain evil and bring truth. According to the Bible, God uses Christians who can share the clear teaching of His Word to change hearts and be that salt and light; something that is prohibited in the public school.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).”
Finally, the Bible contradicts the thinking that a well mannered, sweet child can be a spiritual change agent. In fact, the teaching of the Bible tells us that every child is born with a sinful nature that is bent toward sinning and is not prone to honor and obey God. Rather than a sweet, young person changing those around him for the good, the Bible tells us that it is more likely that those who don’t obey and love God will change that sweet, young person for bad.
“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals. (1 Corinthians 15:33)”
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20)”
That goes full circle back to the Christian parents’ responsibility. We are called to protect and nurture our children in the ways of Christ so they can grow up to be world changers for Christ—no longer little saplings, but instead, strong oaks for the Lord!
Christian parents should be missionary minded, but that first mission is to their own children- to “teach them all I have commanded you”, and that takes all of the years they have at home, so they will be prepared to represent Christ when they leave.