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Stronger Together

September 18, 2019

Associated Christian Schools (ACS)  – Stronger Together

Proverbs 6:6-11

Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise,
Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler,
Provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest.
How long will you slumber, O sluggard?  When will you rise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.

This passage of Scripture is well-known for its obvious message that there is no blessing in being an idler, but has God tucked inside it some further hidden treasure?  If so, how might we first access and then act on that insight?

Associating, or going it alone?

There is something about humanity that is inbuilt within our genetic make-up that makes human beings social animals.  We see a modern expression of this in the seemingly irresistible allure that social media has on many people, old or young.

Further evidence is provided in noting the growth of cities, at cost to the rural areas, of many countries.  This is particularly noticeable in Australia, now 85% urban, with most of that “urban” living in just a handful of cities.  In this regard, humanity has much in common with ants, who labour to shape their colonies or nests.

Why does God advise us, through the writer of Proverbs 6, to consider the ant?  Is it just incitement to greater labour, or is there more to it?

The alternative to gathering into human collectives (our towns and cities) is to live the life of a hermit, alone and dependent on no one other than self.  Little thought is needed to remind us how vulnerable such a person is to accident, ill-health, natural disaster, with no other agency to call upon for help when it is most needed.

Such a picture is one of despair not hope.  Is this why God invited us to consider the ant?

Organisational variety

Human organisations in the modern day, are highly structured to deliver profitable outcomes at minimum cost. Yet when we look at different societies, based on different organisational models, we notice in many of them there are winners and losers.  It is hard to imagine that God intended this.  How well have we responded to His call in Genesis 1:28?

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 

“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it;

have dominion over the fish of the sea,

over the birds of the air,

and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The answer may vary from place to place and from age to age, but at this moment in time and space many might answer not all that well.

For example, it is unlikely that God intended earth’s resources to be plundered just for the benefit of the few.  Surely they were intended for the benefit of all?   The Genesis 1 commission from God was sadly affected by what is described in Genesis 3, the fall of humanity, into sin.

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

It follows that since that time sin has affected everything, making humanity selfish and competitive, not always looking out for the Common Good as expressed by helping others.

Organisationally, humanity is also flawed, but that does not mean our organisations are completely ineffective, rather not always as good as “what might have been”.

Christian school organisations in Australia

Christian schools in Australia are characterised by diversity, and the associations they have created for mutual benefit are similarly characterised by diversity.  Efforts to move towards greater oneness have not proven all that effective.

However, most Christian schools have found is that it is better to belong to a collective that suits their needs.  The old way of belonging might once have been based on denominationalism, but in the modern age is much more likely to be based on some other aspects of common interest. This is why ACS strives for togetherness.

It seems that Christian schools feel stronger together. This is why ACS was developed.

Further insights from considering the ants

The passage from Proverbs has within it this hidden gem of wisdom,

Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler,
Provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest.

Ants have the collective ability to sort themselves out without needing a tyrant to rule over them.  Likewise, humanity does not look favourably on its tyrants, whenever they arise, and with good reason.  So, if wisdom is hidden within this text, perhaps the essence of it is that God intended us to work in a distinctly collaborative fashion?

Greer and Horst in their recent book, Rooting for Rivals, take up this theme.

Vimeo advises,
In Rooting for Rivals, Peter Greer and Chris Horst reveal how your ministry can multiply its impact by cooperating, rather than competing

Faith-based organizations are sometimes known for what we’re against–and all too often that includes being against each other. But amid growing distrust of religious institutions, Christ-centred non-profits have a unique opportunity to link arms and collectively pursue a calling higher than any one organisation’s agenda.

Cooperation rather than competition, while thinking of a higher calling than any one school’s individual agenda, both seem powerful reminders that Christian schooling will be stronger together, when they associate for the Common Good.

Associated Christian Schools (ACS) 

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