Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:12 that if we think we are standing firm, we must be careful that we do not fall. Recently I was saddened to hear bad news about several old friends. These friends were conservative Christian home-schooling families who seemed to be the “model homeschoolers.” So when I heard that their families had been broken apart, I was somewhat stunned. I began to ponder how easy it is for even a “model family” to fall off the path. I believe it starts when we stop putting our faith in Jesus for grace to serve Him each day and instead begin to rely on other things. They may even be good things, but a reliance on them is a reliance on externals, not internals. Following are some externals that may become substitutes for Christ.
1. Homeschooling. Home-schooling is a wonderful way to put into practice the Biblical command to teach your children day in and day out, as you sit at home, and as you walk along the road. (Deuteronomy 6:6-8) But homeschooling is not a replacement for relying on the Lord every day. The mere fact that you homeschool does not make you or your children more spiritual. It does not automatically guarantee a closer walk with the Lord and it is not a vaccination against stumbling into sin. It is a tool—a terrific tool—but it is a tool that should be used to point parents and children to the chief end: Christ.
2. Formulas. Following lifestyle or educational patterns designed by “experts” or “veteran homeschoolers” or well-respected Christian teachers can be helpful. But your spiritual confidence should not be placed in them. For instance, just because someone tells you how wonderful it is to read Scripture to your children every day does not mean that doing so will automatically keep you or your children from falling. If your reliance is on Scripture reading and not on the Lord Himself, you can still fall flat with a bang and a bump.
3. Resources. One of the families whose fall distressed me had been big enthusiasts for the latest-greatest-books for home-schooled youths and for theologically-minded Christians. The parents read all the “right” theological works. The kids read all the “right” clean Christian reprints of old books. And yet the family still hit the rocks. Reading those books is a great thing and they can be fabulous resources. However, we should never become complacent about ourselves or our children simply because the right books are on our shelves and underlined with our highlighters.
4. Rules. Maybe your family has chosen courtship instead of dating. Perhaps you have given purity rings to your children and stressed the importance of saving sex for marriage. Maybe you have strict standards about the movies you watch or the music you allow in your home. Perhaps you have carefully-outlined rules for modest dressing. You might police your online presence very carefully. The rules may be wonderful rules, but they too do not take the place of daily relying on the Lord and building your relationship with Him.
5. Church participation. You might be the busiest person in the neighborhood when it comes to your church. You attend all of its services, you participate in its ministries. While too much time at church can detract from the importance of spending time with each other, church interaction is a usually positive thing. But even that can never be a substitute for walking with the Lord each day.
6. Your reputation. If your family works well together and you are generally following good principles, it can become easy to coast and rest in your reputation. Well, our family has it together. Our family is admired and looked up to. Our family is setting an example. If your family really does have it together, that’s terrific. But resting on your laurels can destroy you in an instant. Instead of trusting in your reputation, humbly look to the Lord instead, hour by hour.
7. Your past. Have you had a strong relationship with the Lord for many years? Have you successfully overcome temptations in the past? Have you walked in obedience for a long time? That is outstanding! But don’t rest on the past. Go to the Lord each new day for grace and strength afresh. All it takes is one unguarded moment for terrible things to enter your life and turn you from God.
If you are standing firm, watch out! Keep standing firm! Never become complacent! Never put your hope or trust or confidence in anything except Christ!
Raquelle Sheen was home-schooled all her life. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from home and is currently pursuing her master’s degree from home also. She and her family have been active in the homeschooling community for many years, having served with state homeschool organizations in several states. For more articles by the Sheen family visit www.homeschoolfamilyforum.com