We, more than any other generation, are able to practise the Truth more readily and with more support in all its spheres of activity—we have our own ecclesial halls, Sunday school structures, Bible Schools and camp sites, aged care facilities, schools, printing presses for the Truth’s literature, committees for Bible Mission work, preaching efforts, Young People’s activities, etc—but are we a better community for it? Are we more active and spiritually minded as a result? “Structures” within the Brotherhood are not wrong; only if they are mistaken for the Truth itself. At the same time as David instructed Solomon to build the Temple, he reminded him to serve his God with a “perfect heart.” It is the Word in the heart and mind that mattered above the Truth’s “institutions”. These are the lessons from 1 Chronicles 28 and 29.

Introduction

King David gave Solomon “the pattern” of the House and the arrangement for the priests and Levites as well as the design of the vessels for the service of the Temple (1 Chron 28:11–13). An “institution” was established wherein Yahweh could be honoured and His name praised. David had set his “affection to the house of (his) God” (29:3)—just as we should the ecclesia. David had made personal sacrifices for the work of the Truth that it might prosper (28:14–18; 29:3)—also as we should. However, the King reminded Solomon that the Truth is more than this. It is more than an institution. It is deeply personal—it is the Word in our hearts, Christ active in our lives.

So King David instructed his heir: “Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for Yahweh understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts…” (1 Chron 28:9; and see also 29:17–19). David concluded his advice with a prayer of thanksgiving to his God (29:10–19).

The point is this. The building of the Temple was not wrong. What was wrong was the nation’s valuing it as an “institution” above the Truth in the heart. “The most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands”—but with “him who is humbled and smitten in spirit, And so careth anxiously for my word”; with those who have His law written “in their inward parts” (Acts 7:48, Isa 66:1–2 Roth, Jer 31:33). This is the antidote to cold institutionalism!

Now Heritage College is clearly not Solomon’s Temple. Nevertheless, the principle remains true that the motives behind running any “structure” we create to assist spiritual progress must remain Godly. This article seeks to explore facets of the issue of spiritual motivation in all things related to the College in Adelaide.

Thanksgiving in all Things (1 Thess 5:18)

A principal motivating force that enables continued spiritual operation within a structure, such as a Heritage College, is thanksgiving. This applies to all connected with the College: givers of the benefits to children as well as receivers and their families. We are very blessed to have this privilege of running a school that allows us to put Biblical values first. For the financial givers this sense of privilege has major impact: it converts a feeling of “I should give some money to the College” to “I’d love to support Heritage”. One dearly beloved elderly sister, now asleep in Christ, called the regular collection taken up for the College at the Cumberland Ecclesia the “Save the Children Fund”. What a motivation! This is the spirit of King David. Though denied a full involvement in the building project, David showed his true motive in that he did everything he could to ensure the success of the Temple project, short of building it himself. This he did with a willing heart. “Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God …” (1 Chron 29:1).

For the wider circle of givers to the College, a lesson from the Jerusalem Poor Fund is very appropriate. Paul told the Corinthians: God is able to bless you with ample means, so that you may always have quite enough for any emergency of your own and ample besides for any kind act to others (2 Cor 9:8). God will always ensure that His affectionate givers have enough to cover their own needs AND enough to keep on giving. Do we believe this?

We recognise that our hard working teachers and staff and many volunteers at the College are the major givers. No doubt they are helped by the realisation that their work has its ultimate fruits in the Kingdom to come. Though they will often not feel like this, they are helping—yes, helping—to train some of tomorrow’s saints. They are aware of the need to do their best. This itself creates pressure on their “life in a fishbowl” as they faithfully endeavour to meet a host of both reasonable and unreasonable expectations. We can certainly sympathise with their need to remain fresh in their work, which at times is a grind. All, especially families with children at the College, do well to support and thank the teachers, bearing in mind that we are all human! Certainly there are many parents whose children have graduated from the College who are very, very relieved and thankful for the good influence of the College staff on their children, particularly at the very difficult teenage stage of life.

What We Can Expect Heritage College to Do

We can rightly anticipate that the College will help educate our children in a Godly way while giving them a sound secular education appropriate to vocational needs in the 21st century. Two of the stated objectives of the College are:

  • To assist in the development of Godliness in children based on the Word of God, in support of the role of parents; and
  • To assist with the development of skills necessary to earn a living and for a life in Christ.

What We Can’t Expect Heritage College to Do

The College was set up to assist parents to bring up a Godly seed. Never was it designed to be a substitute mother or father or the chief spiritually educative influence in children’s lives. This fundamental responsibility lies with the parents, the spiritual guardians of the children.

Thus the College cannot be looked on as a reform school for wayward children, a remand centre to bring errant kids to their senses, or a child-minding facility that somehow means families are any less important in spiritual and other education. Responsibility starts at home, with the ecclesia being the primary support for the local family and the College becoming an additional ‘ally’ for the work of the family and the ecclesia. It is the ecclesia, n o t t h e school, that is “the pillar and ground of the truth” and it is up to the College to try to reflect this.

What do We as Parents Need to be Doing for the College?

1 Be a collaborator with the College—and God

A collaborator is someone who works in combination with someone else—for good. The work of the Apostle Paul was greatly assisted by many collaborators or “co-labourers”, styled in the NT as “fellow-labourers”, “labourers together with God” (eg Phil 4:3, 1 Cor 3:9). Here is the model for a reinforcing relationship with the College. Be a College collaborator, a Heritage helper.

2 Support children’s education—spiritual and secular

Clearly parents have a major responsibility for the successful operation of the College. Helping with homework, extra-curricular activities, taking an interest in the College’s welfare, maintenance of key educational skills such as reading—and what better medium to use than the daily reading of the Bible. And what better way to inspire and lead our children educationally than by having a positive parental attitude to learning ourselves—in matters both spiritual and secular (ie concerned with the affairs of this world). After all, each brother and sister in Christ is called to be a disciple of Christ, an ongoing learner. Thus the family and the College will work synergistically in helping our children to grow mentally and spiritually.

Moses said to Israel of God’s commands that “thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and thou shalt talk of them”, wherever they were (Deut 6:6–7). The practice of this principle in home life, reinforced in the ecclesia and extended into the College, will certainly help to develop children who love God, and who are secure in the unity of the education they receive wherever they are, and not torn apart by contradictory values.

Clearly then, parental responsibility extends to the support of various parent-connecting activities such as Parent Forum, hosted by the College for fathers as well as mothers. Such are important communication channels to ensure that parents keep their ‘hands on the wheel’ with respect to their own children’s education. Parental interest, interaction and engagement with the College are crucial to ensure a sense of ownership in children’s education. Otherwise, the College runs the risk of becoming a glorified child-minding institution.

3 Support the College Principles and Principal

Showing respect for the College and its personnel is a major parental responsibility. Thus, simply taking children out of school when we feel like it and without any teacher consultation teaches our children that they can flout rules and do as they like without regard for authority. Yet one of the chief outcomes of a Heritage College education would surely be a healthy respect for authority.

Parents and children may have views on dress and conduct that differ from the College’s. However, the principle of submission while in the school environment is paramount. Abiding by the rules helps to maintain a harmonious environment. Assertion of personal views simply makes life hard for all. And disobedient children are often very adept at rallying biased parents to support their cause against the best interests of child and school. Parents beware! The teachers at Heritage College may not be perfect but they are not the ogres some children may at times paint them to be.

A Word of Caution and a Vision

Like it or not, privilege brings responsibility. Privileged families and children attending Heritage College therefore have a great responsibility to show they value what has been given. Teachers, staff and volunteers have a huge responsibility to see their role from a spiritual perspective. Council members and ecclesias in their governance roles have serious responsibility to rightly balance spiritual and operational issues and to act with vigilance and integrity at all times.

Surely we want Heritage College to continue to be able to touch the hearts of our collective children and the brotherhood. The wonderful picture of as many as possible doing what they can with what they’ve got to help and not hinder the work of educating children is worth striving for. Let our children know how blessed they are—and let them understand that this brings behavioural responsibilities, such as learning to reach out to others not so blessed. But in no way let the College be the dominant feature on the ecclesial landscape when it comes to the important business of bringing up our heritage. Facilities are blessings, a means to an end, but not the end in themselves. Modelling the Christ life in the home is the most potent educational activity in which we can engage. This is our role in the Truth. There can be no substitute for God-centred family life in the Lord, no matter what the quality of the school.

Conclusion

King David asked each Israelite in the congregation, before Solomon built his temple, “Who then is willing to consecrate his service [mrg, fill his hand] this day unto Yahweh?” Let us all wholeheartedly get on with the business of thankfully cooperating with Yahweh in the saving of our children from this present evil age. But let us remember that God is interested in the life within and cares most of all about faithful obedience.