Strategies for Seeing Anew #23

…towards encouragement and working for change

An example from a Primary classroom
An example from a Secondary classroom

What does this mean?

It is easy to become discouraged and give up trying to change things for the better, but Christians are called to be encouragers so that change does happen. God is called the ‘God of all encouragement’ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). St Paul called on people to encourage each other and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Encouragement means focusing on others and being unselfish in praise. Sometimes what people do and what type of person they are goes unnoticed; people who exercise a ministry of encouragement make a point of noticing.
 
With the news often being about war, disasters and economic failure it is easy to give up. Christians are not immune from this feeling, but the eye of faith sees things differently. The decisive battle with evil was won by Jesus through his life, death and resurrection. Evil is still active but the outcome is not in doubt, evil does not triumph in the end. The cross is not just about personal faith in Christ and God transforming individuals; it’s about hope for the whole world (Colossians 1:15-20; Romans 8:21-22). Faith brings both hope and realism; we live in a broken world, things will be difficult, but with God not impossible. This is not ‘fixing’ things, it’s about Christians living a communal way of life that says to our world: ‘It does not have to be like this, another way is possible.’
Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Desmond Tutu
Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. St Augustine
Discouragement often comes from trying to do things in our own strength and as individuals. Being an agent of change on your own is not the Christian ideal. In the Bible, the emphasis is on Christian communities in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:32-34). Barnabas, an apostle alongside Paul, was called ‘Son of Encouragement’ and students and teachers can exercise this same ministry of encouragement (Hebrews 10:24) helping to bring about change.
The group of followers all felt the same way about everything. None of them claimed that their possessions were their own, and they shared everything they had with each other. In a powerful way the apostles told everyone that the Lord Jesus was now alive. God greatly blessed his followers, and no one went in need of anything. Acts 4:32-34
This section is about moving towards encouragement and working for change. You may wish to think about where people move from; is it a move from discouragement and feeling nothing can change or is it from apathy?

What does this mean in school?

Encouragement can be something practised across school life, and being agents of change relates to many subjects including history, geography, personal development (PSHE), information technology and science.
  • Look at change-making communities and their effects on others. The village of Eyam stopped the plague spreading in Derbyshire in the 17th Century. Quakers such as the Cadburys and Rowntrees practised business in a very different way and affected general business practice.
  • Explore small community groups such as those organised by A Rocha who bring about change in local environments.
  • Think carefully about the language you use: do students get the impression that it’s hopeless, things will never change, or are you overly optimistic? Neither faces a Christian view of reality.
  • Look for the ‘build-up’ effect in your teaching: lots of small things – images, tasks and resources – that create an overall effect.
  • Look for ways in which students can appropriately work for concrete changes in your school or community.
  • Use examples of people with vision in your subject. What visions of a different type of world did these people have? What informed their vision? Did their vision become reality? How? What was the effect of their vision on others? Was it positive or negative?
Think of a lesson/unit you teach that involves change, perhaps in geography or history or personal development (PSHE). What overall story does your teaching give on this issue? Do you and the students feel discouraged or realistically encouraged after it? How could you change the teaching and learning to give a more Christian balance? It might involve changing some resources or how the session is introduced and summed up.
 
More ways of seeing anew
Next way of seeing anew
1From Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and from Timothy, who is also a follower. To God's church in Corinth and to all God's people in Achaia. 2I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace! Paul gives thanks 3Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. 4He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. 5We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives. 6We suffer in the hope that you will be comforted and saved. And because we are comforted, you will also be comforted, as you patiently endure suffering like ours. 7You never disappoint us. You suffered as much as we did, and we know that you will be comforted as we were. 8My friends, I want you to know what a hard time we had in Asia. Our sufferings were so horrible and so unbearable that death seemed certain. 9In fact, we felt sure that we were going to die. But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life. 10God saved us from the threat of death, and we are sure that he will do it again and again. 11Please help us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks for the blessings we receive in answer to all these prayers. Paul's change of plans 12We can be proud of our clear conscience. We have always lived honestly and sincerely, especially when we were with you. And we were guided by God's wonderful kindness instead of by the wisdom of this world. 13I am not writing anything you cannot read and understand. I hope you will understand it completely, 14just as you already partly understand us. Then when our Lord Jesus returns, you can be as proud of us as we are of you. 15I was so sure of your pride in us that I had planned to visit you first of all. In this way you would have the blessing of two visits from me. 16Once on my way to Macedonia and again on my return from there. Then you could send me on to Judea. 17Do you think I couldn't make up my mind about what to do? Or do I seem like someone who says Yes or No simply to please others? 18God can be trusted, and so can I, when I say that our answer to you has always been Yes and never No. 19This is because Jesus Christ the Son of God is always Yes and never No. And he is the one that Silas, Timothy, and I told you about. 20Christ says Yes to all of God's promises. That's why we have Christ to say Amen for us to the glory of God. 21And so God makes it possible for you and us to stand firmly together with Christ. God is also the one who chose us 22and put his Spirit in our hearts to show that we belong only to him. 23God is my witness that I stayed away from Corinth, just to keep from being hard on you. 24We are not bosses who tell you what to believe. We are working with you to make you glad, because your faith is strong.
1I don't need to write to you about the time or date when all this will happen. 2You know that the Lord's return will be as a thief coming at night. 3People will think they are safe and secure. But destruction will suddenly strike them like the pains of a woman about to give birth. And they won't escape. 4My dear friends, you don't live in darkness, and so that day won't surprise you like a thief. 5You belong to the light and live in the day. We don't live in the night or belong to the dark. 6Others may sleep, but we should stay awake and be alert. 7People sleep during the night, and some even get drunk. 8But we belong to the day. So we must stay sober and let our faith and love be like a suit of armour. Our firm hope that we will be saved is our helmet. 9God doesn't intend to punish us, but wants us to be saved by our Lord Jesus Christ. 10Christ died for us, so that we could live with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes. 11That's why you must encourage and help each other, just as you are already doing. 12My friends, we ask you to be thoughtful of your leaders who work hard and tell you how to live for the Lord. 13Show them great respect and love because of their work. Try to get along with each other. 14My friends, we beg you to warn anyone who isn't living right. Encourage anyone who feels left out, help all who are weak, and be patient with everyone. 15Don't be hateful to people, just because they are hateful to you. Rather, be good to each other and to everyone else. 16Always be joyful 17and never stop praying. 18Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do. 19Don't turn away God's Spirit 20or ignore prophecies. 21Put everything to the test. Accept what is good 22and don't have anything to do with evil. 23I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 24The one who chose you can be trusted, and he will do this. 25Friends, please pray for us. 26Give the Lord's followers a warm greeting. 27In the name of the Lord I beg you to read this letter to all his followers. 28I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you!
1From Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from Timothy, who is also a follower. 2To God's people who live in Colossae and are faithful followers of Christ. I pray that God our Father will be kind to you and will bless you with peace! 3Each time we pray for you, we thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4We have heard of your faith in Christ and of your love for all God's people, 5because what you hope for is kept safe for you in heaven. You first heard about this hope when you believed the true message, which is the good news. 6The good news is spreading all over the world with great success. It has spread in that same way among you, ever since the first day you learnt the truth about God's wonderful kindness 7from our good friend Epaphras. He works together with us for Christ and is a faithful worker for you. 8He is also the one who told us about the love that God's Spirit has given you. 9We have not stopped praying for you since the first day we heard about you. In fact, we always pray that God will show you everything he wants you to do and that you may have all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives. 10Then you will live a life that honours the Lord, and you will always please him by doing good deeds. You will come to know God even better. 11His glorious power will make you patient and strong enough to endure anything, and you will be truly happy. 12I pray that you will be grateful to God for letting you have part in what he has promised his people in the kingdom of light. 13God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son, 14who forgives our sins and sets us free. 15Christ is exactly like God, who cannot be seen. He is the firstborn Son, superior to all creation. 16Everything was created by him, everything in heaven and on earth, everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities. All things were created by God's Son, and everything was made for him. 17God's Son was before all else, and by him everything is held together. 18He is the head of his body, which is the church. He is the very beginning, the first to be raised from death, so that he would be above all others. 19God himself was pleased to live fully in his Son. 20And God was pleased for him to make peace by sacrificing his blood on the cross, so that all beings in heaven and on earth would be brought back to God. 21You used to be far from God. Your thoughts made you his enemies, and you did evil things. 22But his Son became a human and died. So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are holy and faultless and innocent. 23But you must stay deeply rooted and firm in your faith. You must not give up the hope you received when you heard the good news. It was preached to everyone on earth, and I myself have become a servant of this message. Paul's service to the church 24I am glad that I can suffer for you. I am pleased also that in my own body I can continue the suffering of Christ for his body, the church. 25God's plan was to make me a servant of his church and to send me to preach his complete message to you. 26For many ages this message was kept secret from everyone, but now it has been explained to God's people. 27God did this because he wanted you Gentiles to understand his wonderful and glorious mystery. And the mystery is that Christ lives in you, and he is your hope of sharing in God's glory. 28We announce the message about Christ, and we use all our wisdom to warn and teach everyone, so that all Christ's followers will grow and become mature. 29That's why I work so hard and use the mighty power he gives me.
1If you belong to Christ Jesus, you won't be punished. 2The Holy Spirit will give you life that comes from Christ Jesus and will set you free from sin and death. 3The Law of Moses cannot do this, because our selfish desires make the Law weak. But God set you free when he sent his own Son to be like us sinners and to be a sacrifice for our sin. God used Christ's body to condemn sin. 4He did this, so that we would do what the Law commands by obeying the Spirit instead of our own desires. 5People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. 6If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. 7Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God's laws. 8If we follow our desires, we cannot please God. 9You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God's Spirit, who lives in you. People who don't have the Spirit of Christ in them don't belong to him. 10But Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you, even though your bodies must die because of your sins. 11Yet God raised Jesus to life! God's Spirit now lives in you, and he will raise you to life by his Spirit. 12My dear friends, we must not live to satisfy our desires. 13If you do, you will die. But you will live, if by the help of God's Spirit you say No to your desires. 14Only those people who are led by God's Spirit are his children. 15God's Spirit doesn't make us slaves who are afraid of him. Instead, we become his children and call him our Father. 16God's Spirit makes us sure that we are his children. 17His Spirit lets us know that together with Christ we will be given what God has promised. We will also share in the glory of Christ, because we have suffered with him. A wonderful future for God's people 18I am sure that what we are suffering now cannot compare with the glory that will be shown to us. 19In fact, all creation is eagerly waiting for God to show who his children are. 20Meanwhile, creation is confused, but not because it wants to be confused. God made it this way in the hope 21that creation would be set free from decay and would share in the glorious freedom of his children. 22We know that all creation is still groaning and is in pain, like a woman about to give birth. 23The Spirit makes us sure about what we will be in the future. But now we groan silently, while we wait for God to show that we are his children. This means that our bodies will also be set free. 24And this hope is what saves us. But if we already have what we hope for, there is no need to keep on hoping. 25However, we hope for something we have not yet seen, and we patiently wait for it. 26In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don't know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. 27All our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God's people. 28We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose, 29and he has always known who his chosen ones would be. He had decided to let them become like his own Son, so that his Son would be the first of many children. 30God then accepted the people he had already decided to choose, and he has shared his glory with them. God's love 31What can we say about all this? If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? 32God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won't he freely give us everything else? 33If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? 34Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God's right side, speaking to him for us. 35Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? 36It is exactly as the Scriptures say, For you we face death all day long. We are like sheep on their way to be butchered. 37In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. 38I am sure that nothing can separate us from God's lovenot life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, 39and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God's love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord! God's choice of Israel
1The apostles were still talking to the people, when some priests, the captain of the temple guard, and some Sadducees arrived. 2These men were angry because the apostles were teaching the people that the dead would be raised from death, just as Jesus had been raised from death. 3It was already late in the afternoon, and they arrested Peter and John and put them in jail for the night. 4But a lot of people who had heard the message believed it. So by now there were about five thousand followers of the Lord. 5The next morning the leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses met in Jerusalem. 6The high priest Annas was there, as well as Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other members of the high priest's family. 7They brought in Peter and John and made them stand in the middle while they questioned them. They asked, By what power and in whose name have you done this? 8Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and told the nation's leaders and the elders: 9You are questioning us today about a kind deed in which a crippled man was healed. 10But there is something we must tell you and everyone else in Israel. This man is standing here completely well because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You put Jesus to death on a cross, but God raised him to life. 11He is the stone that you builders thought was worthless, and now he is the most important stone of all. 12Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone. 13The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated. The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus. 14But they could not deny what had happened. The man who had been healed was standing there with the apostles. 15The officials commanded them to leave the council room. Then the officials said to each other, 16What can we do with these men? Everyone in Jerusalem knows about this miracle, and we cannot say it didn't happen. 17But to keep this thing from spreading, we will warn them never again to speak to anyone about the name of Jesus. 18So they called the two apostles back in and told them that they must never, for any reason, teach anything about the name of Jesus. 19Peter and John answered, Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him? 20We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard. 21The officials could not find any reason to punish Peter and John. So they threatened them and let them go. The man who was healed by this miracle was more than forty years old, and everyone was praising God for what had happened. Peter and others pray for courage 23As soon as Peter and John had been set free, they went back and told the others everything that the chief priests and the leaders had said to them. 24When the rest of the Lord's followers heard this, they prayed together and said: Master, you created heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. 25And by the Holy Spirit you spoke to our ancestor David. He was your servant, and you told him to say: Why are all the Gentiles so furious? Why do people make foolish plans? 26The kings of earth prepare for war, and the rulers join together against the Lord and his Messiah. 27Here in Jerusalem, Herod and Pontius Pilate got together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel. Then they turned against your holy Servant Jesus, your chosen Messiah. 28They did what you in your power and wisdom had already decided would happen. 29Lord, listen to their threats! We are your servants. So make us brave enough to speak your message. 30Show your mighty power, as we heal people and perform miracles and wonders in the name of your holy Servant Jesus. 31After they had prayed, the meeting place shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and bravely spoke God's message. Sharing possessions 32The group of followers all felt the same way about everything. None of them claimed that their possessions were their own, and they shared everything they had with each other. 33In a powerful way the apostles told everyone that the Lord Jesus was now alive. God greatly blessed his followers, 34and no one went in need of anything. Everyone who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money 35to the apostles. Then they would give the money to anyone who needed it. 36Joseph was one of the followers who had sold a piece of property and brought the money to the apostles. He was a Levite from Cyprus, and the apostles called him Barnabas, which means one who encourages others. Peter condemns Ananias and Sapphira
1The Law of Moses is like a shadow of the good things to come. This shadow isn't the good things themselves, because it cannot free people from sin by the sacrifices that are offered year after year. 2If there were worshippers who already have their sins washed away and their consciences made clear, there would not be any need to go on offering sacrifices. 3But the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. It only reminds people of their sins from one year to the next. 5When Christ came into the world, he said to God, Sacrifices and offerings are not what you want, but you have given me my body. 6No, you are not pleased with animal sacrifices and offerings for sin. 7Then Christ said, And so, my God, I have come to do what you want, as the Scriptures say. 8The Law teaches that offerings and sacrifices must be made because of sin. But why did Christ mention these things and say that God did not want them? 9Well, it was to do away with offerings and sacrifices and to replace them. That is what he meant by saying to God, I have come to do what you want. 10So we are made holy because Christ obeyed God and offered himself once for all. 11The priests do their work each day, and they keep on offering sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12But Christ offered himself as a sacrifice that is good for ever. Now he is sitting at God's right side, 13and he will stay there until his enemies are put under his power. 14By his one sacrifice he has for ever set free from sin the people he brings to God. 15The Holy Spirit also speaks of this by telling us that the Lord said, 16When the time comes, I will make an agreement with them. I will write my laws on their minds and hearts. 17Then I will forget about their sins and no longer remember their evil deeds. 18When sins are forgiven, there is no more need to offer sacrifices. Encouragement and warning 19My friends, the blood of Jesus gives us courage to enter the most holy place 20by a new way that leads to life! And this way takes us through the curtain that is Christ himself. 21We have a great high priest who is in charge of God's house. 22So let's come near God with pure hearts and a confidence that comes from having faith. Let's keep our hearts pure, our consciences free from evil, and our bodies washed with clean water. 23We must hold tightly to the hope that we say is ours. After all, we can trust the one who made the agreement with us. 24We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things. 25Some people have got out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer. 26No sacrifices can be made for people who decide to sin after they find out about the truth. 27They are God's enemies, and all they can look forward to is a terrible judgment and a furious fire. 28If two or more witnesses accused someone of breaking the Law of Moses, that person could be put to death. 29But it is much worse to dishonour God's Son and to disgrace the blood of the promise that made us holy. And it is just as bad to insult the Holy Spirit, who shows us mercy. 30We know that God has said he will punish and take revenge. We also know that the Scriptures say the Lord will judge his people. 31It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God! 32Don't forget all the hard times you went through when you first received the light. 33Sometimes you were abused and ill-treated in public, and at other times you shared in the sufferings of others. 34You were kind to people in jail. And you gladly let your possessions be taken away, because you knew you had something better, something that would last for ever. 35Keep on being brave! It will bring you great rewards. 36Learn to be patient, so that you will please God and be given what he has promised. 37As the Scriptures say, God is coming soon! It won't be very long. 38The people God accepts will live because of their faith. But he isn't pleased with anyone who turns back. 39We are not like those people who turn back and get destroyed. We will keep on having faith until we are saved.
1The apostles were still talking to the people, when some priests, the captain of the temple guard, and some Sadducees arrived. 2These men were angry because the apostles were teaching the people that the dead would be raised from death, just as Jesus had been raised from death. 3It was already late in the afternoon, and they arrested Peter and John and put them in jail for the night. 4But a lot of people who had heard the message believed it. So by now there were about five thousand followers of the Lord. 5The next morning the leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses met in Jerusalem. 6The high priest Annas was there, as well as Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other members of the high priest's family. 7They brought in Peter and John and made them stand in the middle while they questioned them. They asked, By what power and in whose name have you done this? 8Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and told the nation's leaders and the elders: 9You are questioning us today about a kind deed in which a crippled man was healed. 10But there is something we must tell you and everyone else in Israel. This man is standing here completely well because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You put Jesus to death on a cross, but God raised him to life. 11He is the stone that you builders thought was worthless, and now he is the most important stone of all. 12Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone. 13The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated. The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus. 14But they could not deny what had happened. The man who had been healed was standing there with the apostles. 15The officials commanded them to leave the council room. Then the officials said to each other, 16What can we do with these men? Everyone in Jerusalem knows about this miracle, and we cannot say it didn't happen. 17But to keep this thing from spreading, we will warn them never again to speak to anyone about the name of Jesus. 18So they called the two apostles back in and told them that they must never, for any reason, teach anything about the name of Jesus. 19Peter and John answered, Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him? 20We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard. 21The officials could not find any reason to punish Peter and John. So they threatened them and let them go. The man who was healed by this miracle was more than forty years old, and everyone was praising God for what had happened. Peter and others pray for courage 23As soon as Peter and John had been set free, they went back and told the others everything that the chief priests and the leaders had said to them. 24When the rest of the Lord's followers heard this, they prayed together and said: Master, you created heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. 25And by the Holy Spirit you spoke to our ancestor David. He was your servant, and you told him to say: Why are all the Gentiles so furious? Why do people make foolish plans? 26The kings of earth prepare for war, and the rulers join together against the Lord and his Messiah. 27Here in Jerusalem, Herod and Pontius Pilate got together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel. Then they turned against your holy Servant Jesus, your chosen Messiah. 28They did what you in your power and wisdom had already decided would happen. 29Lord, listen to their threats! We are your servants. So make us brave enough to speak your message. 30Show your mighty power, as we heal people and perform miracles and wonders in the name of your holy Servant Jesus. 31After they had prayed, the meeting place shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and bravely spoke God's message. Sharing possessions 32The group of followers all felt the same way about everything. None of them claimed that their possessions were their own, and they shared everything they had with each other. 33In a powerful way the apostles told everyone that the Lord Jesus was now alive. God greatly blessed his followers, 34and no one went in need of anything. Everyone who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money 35to the apostles. Then they would give the money to anyone who needed it. 36Joseph was one of the followers who had sold a piece of property and brought the money to the apostles. He was a Levite from Cyprus, and the apostles called him Barnabas, which means one who encourages others. Peter condemns Ananias and Sapphira