Providing strong, faith-building educational programs that also stress the development of Christian character can have a powerful and lasting impact on today’s youth. Character traits that are rooted in biblical principles prove vital to a well-balanced mind and body as they develop during the early years.
With Christ as our model, we can learn from His method of teaching—using parables that focus on eternal truths found in His creation. These can be discovered throughout the natural world and taught or “illustrated” in a way that is retained for life.
Scripture says, “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: . . . I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:34, 35).
Here we see the power of how Jesus taught the multitudes who had no books, schools, computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. He taught the young and old alike through the natural handiwork of His creation that surrounded them in their daily lives. Jesus used nature and the everyday toil of life to connect the truths of heaven with the words of Scripture. He led people from the natural to the spiritual realm step by step, illustration by illustration.
Christ’s parables provide a link in the chain of truth that unites earthly humans with their heavenly Creator.
Christ was the ultimate teacher, demonstrating the Scriptural truth to “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Such principles in character building are priceless and everlasting.
The Creator himself—now incarnate as man and savior to a world lost in sin—spoke to all who would listen many powerful and life-sustaining object lessons about the things He had created and made for our benefit. Through all Creation, Jesus sought to touch hearts and minds to bring about conversion. Even though sin has marred much of Creation, it still holds powerful truths that, rightly understood and illustrated, reveal a Creator who can still create in each of us a new heart.
As teachers of our youth, it is this “higher education” concept that we wish to instill in their eager minds.
Abstract theories were not utilized by Christ.
Instead, He sought essential practical lessons found in nature that would develop a self-sacrificing character and increase human capacity for knowing God so that mortals can reflect the love of heaven to others.
Only through creation are we better acquainted with our Creator, and good Christian character development is the only thing that is lifelong and can be taken into eternity. The book of nature holds numerous lessons of the highest value that, when connected with Scripture, can be used to teach deep character-building truths.
We can only imagine seeing Jesus pluck the beautiful lily on a hillside and place it gently in the hands of the youth; and as they looked into His glowing loving face, listened to Him teach them to consider the lilies of the field, how they grow in their simplicity of natural beauty, not toiling or spinning, and yet not even King Solomon in all his glory and riches was not arrayed like one of these blossoms (paraphrased from Matthew 6:29).
Thus our Creator—Jesus himself—interpreted the message He designed in the lilies of the field. His words then became associated with the lily every time they were viewed; thus, the lesson became eternal.
It is the high calling of parents and teachers everywhere to follow Christ’s example of “higher education.” But resources to follow His example can be scarce…
One option that has been around for more than 25 years is Creation Illustrated magazine, which seeks to “illustrate” a wide variety of parables that teach eternal truths and character-building lessons that the youth will not depart from when they grow older.
*This article is inspired by “Teaching in Parables,” from the book Christ’s Object Lessons.