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“Oh, Blest the House, Whate’er Befall”


What do you think of when you hear the term Christian Education? Many CLC members might answer, “Christian day schools,” or “Immanuel Lutheran High School, College, and Seminary.” Some might think of home schools where both the content and methods of education are governed by Christian parents instead of by the secular government.
All those responses most certainly are fine examples of Christian education. But they are incomplete. Indeed, in a society in which many elements are rapidly becoming antagonistic to Christianity and Christians, those responses may in some cases not even be adequate! It would be a dangerous mistake for Christian parents to assume that their responsibility for the Christian education of their children begins and ends with the above responses. Genuine Christian education involves the entire home and family life of the child.
Christoph Carl Ludwig von Pfeil’s 1782 hymn “Oh, Blest the House, Whate’er Befall” gives a more complete view of what constitutes Christian education.
“Oh, blest the house, whate’er befall/ Where Jesus Christ is all in all!/ Yea, if He were not dwelling there,/ How dark and poor and void it were!” (Verse 1) In nominally Christian households, religion is merely one item among a multitude of others in family life. It may even be an important Sunday ritual, but it’s not the “all in all” of the family. God, however, does not desire that Jesus be just one item among others on our menu, to be arranged along with “job,” “social relationships,” “recreation,” and so forth. It’s not a “menu item”; it’s the entire restaurant! What I mean by that is that our Lord would have our status as Christians—children of the living God—to be the organizing principle of everything else in our lives. Our Christian faith is not an element in our lives; it’s what governs the elements in our lives. Lacking this, that house is, indeed, “dark and poor.”
“Oh, blest the house where faith ye find/ and all within have set their mind/ To trust their God and serve Him still/ And do in all His holy will!” (Verse 2) What strikes me in this stanza is the part about setting our minds. We must be steadfastly resolute. We face many obstacles opposing the consistent exercise of our Christian faith, and those obstacles are likely to increase as our society drifts away from its Christian foundation. We need to exercise the firm determination of Joshua in the Covenant at Shechem: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) We must let nothing deter us from this objective.
“Oh, blest the parents who give heed/ Unto their children’s foremost need/ And weary not of care or cost!/ May none to them and heav’n be lost!” (Verse 3) It does not “take a village” to rear godly children; it takes Christian parents who understand the importance of Christian education for their sons and daughters. God has given children—and the responsibility for their upbringing—to parents, not to schools or governments or any other societal institution. Blessed are the Christian parents who faithfully shoulder that responsibility and bring up their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
The last verse of this hymn addresses an important truth that we need to remember in our own lives, as well as to instill in the minds of our children. “Then here will I and mine today/ A solemn covenant make and say:/ Though all the world forsake Thy Word,/ I and my house will serve the Lord.” (Verse 5) As Christians, we are not “of the world,” and we must then be willing to accept the consequences of being different. We also must teach our children to ignore peer pressure when that pressure is to compromise biblical beliefs and behavioral standards. Our immersion in a culture that is increasingly in conflict with biblical standards tends to desensitize us to that conflict. The solution is to be so immersed in God’s Word that we naturally reference all things by that standard rather than by worldly ones. “Though all the world forsake Thy Word, I and my house will serve the Lord.”
Craig Owings is a retired teacher and serves as assistant editor of the Lutheran Spokesman. He lives in Cape Coral, Florida.