In Matthew 5 Jesus climbs a mountain. In Matthew 8 He comes down. What Jesus teaches while sitting on the mountain is the greatest sermon every preached. It was His only Sermon. In this mountain-top experience, Jesus instructs disciples how to change the world when they leave the mountain. If followed, this teaching will cause the mountain-taught Kingdom of Jesus to become a huge mountain filling the whole earth.
“What does the Sermon on the Mount have to do with primary schools?” I hear you asking. It is largely about the little people – the poor, the persecuted: the little and the belittled. It teaches us how God views these people. He loves them! It teaches us how God wants us to treat these people. It teaches us who to judge and how to judge, where good gifts come from, where to store our treasures, what to worry about, where to knock, to wait and watch because both sheep and wolves bear fruit, how to pray, where to build and how to give. In short, it teaches us how to live in His Kingdom and as His Kingdom.
And this is where the kids come in. Just because the truth of Jesus’ love brings great reformation to the lives of many adults, doesn’t mean this is the best way to build the Kingdom. If we get in early — before they leave grade school – The Kingdom of Jesus can be formational rather than reformational. Ask any builder. It’s a lot easier to adjust the foundation before the house is built. And everything rests on the foundation.
For the entirety of our life we constantly return to our childhood for instruction, be it good or bad. We repeat the successes and failures of our childhood mentors — both heroes and villains. To provide a healthy, loving, meaningful adult presence in the life of a child is to give a gift for an entire lifetime. To be a mountain-taught mentor of children is to be a disciple-maker in its purest form. Through us, they will found their lives on the Rock that is becoming a mountain rather than being satisfied with the instability of slippery sand.
There are many ways you can be involved in the lives of the children in your neighbourhood. You could coach them in footy or gymnastics, teach music or acting, drive the bus or be the crossing-guard. In the schools you can serve as a mentor, CRE (religion) teacher or chaplain.* The foundational need in the life of every child is a stable adult who models what it means to be a healthy and holistic grown-up. And as a mountain-taught disciple of Jesus, you model the core message of the Kingdom to “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Your stable influence and loving attitude is more valuable to children than you will ever know. When they suffer at home or school, you are there — trusted and true — as a rock for them to rely on. When they have questions, you are, as Jesus says at the heart of His sermon, the giver who fulfils the promise: “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7) because you have expanded the Kingdom into their world by being present when they come seeking. In this way, Jesus’ Kingdom need not be far from any child.
At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says those who put His words into practice are wise like a man who builds his house on rock rather than sand (see Matthew 7:24-27). Moments later Jesus shows us what that looks like. Coming down the mountain, Jesus places His hand on one of the untouchables, saying, “I am willing” and the leper is healed (see Matthew 8:1-3). The children in our neighbourhoods and public schools are often treated as untouchables. May this not be the case for us. May you be found on the Rock, willing the Kingdom to expand by being in touch with the children in your community — modelling and mentoring just as the mountain-top Teacher dwells with and disciples us.
· * To learn more about CRE Teaching or School Chaplaincy see: www.accessministries.org.au
To learn more about becoming a mentor to Primary students see: