An Experiment in Grace

The School

Shh!  Don’t tell my mother, but I am planning to use her in an experiment with students at Northwest Christian Academy in Lake Zurich, Illinois. She’s coming to Chicago from Plymouth, UK this Thursday and I’m very excited. 

Picture 120

The experiment will involve working in collaboration with the students in one of the older grades to form rules for the two days that I will substitute there.  My mother, who is visiting America, will accompany me.  When the students have finished making the rules they must decide on the consequences.  I will try not to edit this process, especially since the students tend to be harder on each other than adults might be on them.

After we have rules and consequences, I will announce that my mother (because of her love for the students and the school) will take on herself all of the punishment that any child deserves.  The only condition on my mother’s taking the punishment is that the child appears to be sorry for what they have done.  It will be important to present that this is not a joke.  We will arrange something for the evening with my mother, like a trip to the Oberweis Ice-Cream parlour, that she will not get to do if she receives a phone call home.

Students can not mess around to get my mother in trouble.  That is a violation of her grace and shows no repentance on their part.  Students can not insist on taking the punishment on themselves.  This is a lesson on grace and not just punishment.

After two days of this, the students and I will debrief about what they have learned.  Hopefully we will be able to see something of the power of grace.  Too many Christian schools are typified by rules, legalism, stricture.  I want to see Christian children who know what it is to extend the grace that they have received.

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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8 Responses to An Experiment in Grace

  1. greaseball says:

    This sounds great!  Please post the results and reactions.

  2. hrlmercygirl says:

    can i have ice cream, too? :)I agree that too many Christian schools – and Christian families, for that matter – are typified by rules, legalism, and structure. How can this be more balanced in our families and schools?

  3. Eddieray says:

    Students can not mess around to get my mother in trouble.  Does that mean they can’t  knowingly or premeditate sin, because that will void their grace.

  4. I have written a message to Eddieray asking for clarification on his question.  Can anyone else post something here clarifying what he means?
    I also told him that the aim is to teach two things from Romans.  One is that where sin abounds grace superabounds.  The second is to understand that the existence of grace does not mean that I sin so that more grace is extended.  In the experiment, my students should learn that my mother’s punishment should cause them to pause and use their freedom wisely.  “Should we sin so that grace abounds?  Byno means.”

  5. Eddieray says:

    That is a violation of her grace and shows no repentance on their part.  Sounded like to me you may have been either saying that grace was void or they may not be really saved.  We’re on the same page, where sin abounds grace does much more abound.   Paul full well knew he was sinning when he did what he shouldn’t do, and he didn’t do what he should do.   He said all things are lawful for him to do, but doing all thing wasn’t expedient (in his best interest).   We shouldn’t sin because with what measure( sin) we measure we get that same measure (sin), measured back to us increased.    

  6. I think that eddieray is saying that the students shouldn’t receive grace if they trample on my mother’s sacrifice.  I hope that the comparison with Christ’s atonement becomes clear.  Eddieray’s comments are actually one of the reasons that I question whether a Christian can actually backslide.  Is it possible for one who has received and understood such grace to intentionally walk a life of sin?

  7. Eddieray says:

    I’m saying that the students SHOULD receive grace  even if they trample on your mother’s sacrifice.  

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think the factor that comes into play here is this: It will be interesting to see how many students “shape up” just so mum can go get ice cream! It will also be interesting to see how many students go back to breaking the rules after the experiment is over. Do we look at this experiment as “let us work together for the common good of getting mum to Oberweiss” and compare that to “God will judge us by our good works/being good will get us into heaven (or at least ice cream) – or do we see it as PURE GRACE? In answer to your question about intentionally walking in a life of sin, my opinion is yes – it is possible for a person who understands such grace to intentionally walk a life of sin… but my question is this: Does that mean they are NOT or never were a CHRISTIAN? Maybe that person needs Jesus more than any “Christian” does. Even though they understand grace, they may not have the power to overcome their sinful nature until God gives them that power to overcome it. Is it always God’s will that a Christian be “perfect/without sin/never make a mistake?” – if the answer is yes, then what would we need Jesus for? We should not take God’s grace for granted, but I do believe some struggle more than others and need Jesus just as much, if not more than the “average” Christian.

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