“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Embedded in these verses are two interconnected communities: the Trinitarian community of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the community of men and women as bearers of God’s image and stewards of his creation. As God’s plan unfolds through human history, we see more clearly the nature of our community defined through our vertical relationship with a Trinitarian God and a horizontal relationship with humankind. Chattanooga Christian School (CCS) cultivates its community within this context.
While the perfection of both our vertical and horizontal community was corrupted by the fall, God remained faithful and quickly promised a redemptive and relational plan to restore the beautiful community he intended for us. In Genesis 3:15 God says this to Adam, Eve, and the serpent who deceived them, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.” God’s plan to send an offspring of the woman to redeem what was fallen was set in motion. That offspring would come not only from the horizontal community and be fully human, but also, as God’s only begotten son, be fully God and from the vertical community.
God’s sovereign plan continues through Abraham and to the seed of Abraham from generation to generation, in a covenant promise that he would be our God and we, his people. In Exodus 19:5-6 God reiterates his desire to rebuild his community now in bondage, when he said, “If you indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you shall speak to the people of Israel.” Peter carries forward this same promise in 1 Peter 2:4-5, “As you come to him, a living stone, rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Paul proclaims the same covenantal, community-healing truth. In Ephesians 2:12-14 he shows us that all the people of God, Jew and Gentile, are one community, vertically and horizontally, when he says, “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now, in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Paul describes this further in Ephesians 4:4-7, “There is one body, and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
We were created for community with God and others. Sin made the community God desired impossible, but rather than reject us, he sent his son to make both our vertical and horizontal community right. We are underserving recipients of this grace and are equipped to participate in rebuilding the community God intended in creation. CCS is therefore meant to represent this covenantal, grace-filled community in every way. Our call is to serve our Trinitarian God and pursue reconciliation in our vertical relationship with him for his glory. The purpose of every pursuit within our community is to glorify him. While our efforts to live in this way fall far short, God’s grace through Christ perfects our brokenness and restores us to be his treasured possessions.
God has also called us to reconcile our horizontal relationships with others. A significant part of serving God is serving others through kindness, justice, and mercy. Our actions as part of God’s community are not our own, and we are often called to sacrifice personal goals and aspirations for the glory of God and the body of Christ. The policies and structures of the school are designed to represent and proclaim this truth and are intended as a means of grace in the same way that God’s law is a means of grace for believers. As diverse people grow into one body, each with its own specific role, the grace of God is seen in the midst of our successes and failures. Sin has broken us individually and as a community, but Christ entered the fallenness and paid an extraordinary price to rebuild what was broken. The community of CCS seeks to center itself in the pre-eminence of Christ to sacrificially serve God’s glory, rather than the pre-eminence of man to self-sufficiently serve his own glory. As Christ is longsuffering with us, so CCS is longsuffering with students as we come alongside Christian parents in their effort to raise their children as treasured members of the body of Christ. While the penalty for sin has been completely paid in Christ, God uses natural consequences to help us see and learn from the fracture our sin creates in our vertical and horizontal relationships. Consequences in a grace-filled community, even the most difficult ones, are designed to be catalysts in the restoration of both our vertical and horizontal community.
The message of grace-filled community cannot be presented only in the content of our instruction. It must be clearly seen in the context of school life, as we own our brokenness in the light of God’s grace. We rest in the covenantal promise of God to Abraham, fulfilled in Christ, and trust God to restore each part of CCS as we serve as ministers of reconciliation in the vertical and horizontal community God is redeeming by grace.