Vision and ValuesWavertree Church of England School
The use of the original Greek word emphasises the strength and importance of this concept within the Christian faith.
Koinonia means ‘that which is in common’ and is often translated as ‘fellowship’ or ‘community’. Other translations might include ‘union’, ‘partnership’, or ‘being yoked together’. A yoke is a shaped piece of wood that goes across the shoulders, often linking two animals. By combining their strength, it helps work to be done and burdens to be carried. Koinonia expresses the quality of relationship within the Christian community. It is based on fellowship with Jesus. Through him, Christians share the relationship that Jesus has with God. In John 17, Jesus prays that all his followers may be ‘perfectly one’ as he and the Father are one. Through him, Christians become sons and daughters of God and therefore brothers and sisters of each other. They are all members of the same family.
A central element of being a family is interdependence: all are needed and valued and each person is important to the whole. The same message is found in Paul’s image of the Christian community as the body of Christ. Each member of the body shares the joys and sufferings of the others and each depends upon every else.
The foundation of Christian koinonia is Christ’s self giving on the cross, the supreme demonstration of his love for all. We love because he loved us first.
For the first Christians, this was expressed in a genuine common life with shared meals, shared possessions and practical support for the poor. The Christian church today continues to serve not only those within the Christian community but any who are in need.
Home Our School Our Vision Respect
The apostle Peter summarizes the Bible’s teaching on respect in his first Epistle: “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17). This passage encompasses four major areas of our lives, teaching us that, as followers of Christ, we should respect all men, other Christians, God, and governmental authorities. The word respect is a translation of the Greek word timēsate, meaning “honor or value.” It literally means “to place a great value or high price on something.” Interestingly, today we tend to place our values on our personal rights and the equality of man. However, biblical respect is far different, more about a perceived inequality in that we recognize that some things and some people are more important than we (compare Philippians 2:3).
To respect everyone, believers must be conscious that God has created all people in His image, regardless of whether they believe in Christ. We should show them proper respect and honor because their souls are of more value than all the wealth in the world (Luke 10:33–34; 1 Corinthians 10:33).
Loving the brotherhood of believers means to love all believers, regardless of color, nationality, opinions, or affiliations. We are to demonstrate to the world that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. The apostle John wrote of this principle a number of times. Quoting Jesus, he writes, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35; cf. 15:12; 1 John 3:23).
The word fear is a translation of the Greek word phobeisthe, meaning “fear, dread, and respect.” The word also implies that our fear of Him leads to us to total obedience (Leviticus 18:4; Psalm 119:67; John 14:15). Though we are to honor the king, we should “fear” God (compare Deuteronomy 10:12; Isaiah 8:13). The bottom line is that it is God alone whom we should “fear” in the sense of having an awed respect.
We honor and respect our governing authorities because they exist by the very will of God (Romans 13:1–7). Such respect must be given whether we agree with them or not. Those in authority are God’s instruments for carrying out the purpose of governing and worthy of the respect God mandates. When we obey the principles of this passage, we give genuine credibility to our faith. As believers, we are to honor our governing authorities and their rights as such. But we may not give to the government those rights that belong to God alone (Luke 20:25).
Christians are to be a people of order and discipline, of righteousness and justice. We are to be dynamic examples of love and peace so that others may be won to Christ and be saved for eternity (Matthew 5:14–16). Part of living as examples of Christ before the watching world is showing respect to others.
The Christian understanding of hope illustrates how trivial our everyday use of the word can be. We hope that it will not rain for the picnic, or that the car will start or that the plumber will come tomorrow.
At a deeper level, hope is a universal human phenomenon. People hope for peace in time of war; food in time of famine; justice in time of oppression. Where hope is lost there is despair and disintegration. Hope generates energy and sustains people through difficult times. For some people, hope is so strong that it inspires self-sacrifice to turn hope into reality.
True hope is much more than a general idea that things will get better. It is more than a belief in progress, which sees the world and people as getting better all the time, growing away from violence, ignorance and confusion. There has, of course, been genuine progress: in technology, in communications, in medical care and in the protection of people’s rights through the law. Nevertheless, terror and oppression, death and disease, greed and self-serving still govern the lives of millions. In the light of all this, belief in human progress looks facile and deluding.
Christian hope is grounded in the character of God. Often, in the Psalms, the writer says to God: ‘My hope is in you’. It is a hope rooted in the love and faithfulness of God. Hope is not wishful thinking but a firm assurance that God can be relied upon. It does not remove the need for ‘waiting upon the Lord’ but there is underlying confidence that God is a ‘strong rock’ and one whose promises can be trusted. The writer to the Hebrews describes the Christian hope as ‘an anchor for the soul, firm and secure’. Even when experiencing exile, persecution, doubt or darkness, the Biblical writers trust in God’s ‘unfailing love’ and know that he will be true to his covenant promises. That is the basis of their hope.
Forgiveness is fundamental to the character of God. Throughout the Bible, God is described as slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin (Numbers 14:18).
Jesus was uncompromising in his command to forgive. Forgive, he said, ‘seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:21). Christian preaching has always put forgiveness at the centre.
We forgive because we are forgiven. Paul says: ‘Be compassionate and kind to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (Ephesians 4:32)
The parable of the Unjust Steward tells of a servant who was forgiven his large debt only to be condemned because he refused to forgive a small debt owed to him.
Forgiveness cannot be given or received unless it is asked for, and the asking must be genuine and from the heart. Too often ‘sorry’ is said very easily, implying: ‘All I need to do is say I’m sorry and everything will be OK’. Real repentance demands that we take what we have done wrong with the utmost seriousness and have a deep desire not to do it again.
Home Our School Our Vision Wisdom
There is a type of literature in the Bible that is sometimes called ‘Wisdom Literature’ and an important idea in these writings is that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’. Wisdom is insight into the way life works: a proper understanding of the consequences of our thoughts, words and actions and an awareness of the true value of things. It is rooted in proper reverence for God who is the source of all life and all values.
Although related to education and knowledge, wisdom differs from cleverness. Wisdom may be best described as discernment gained through life experience and distilled into guiding principles. Sometimes, the word is used in the Bible to refer to the practical and technical skills possessed by an experienced craftsperson or administrator. In the book of Proverbs, Wisdom is sometimes personified and, at one point, is spoken of as she who worked alongside God as a master craftsperson when God created the world.
The opposite of wisdom is foolishness, which is a wrong understanding of life. Jesus tells the parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21). Although this parable may seem to be mainly about greed and obsession with money, at a deeper level it is about putting our trust or faith in the wrong things. It’s about missing the point; it’s about being a fool. The fool does not realize that his soul is ‘on loan’ from God, who can require it back whenever he likes. The fool thinks that the aim of life is to ‘be happy’ and he thinks that you can gain happiness by doing what you want and be gaining more and more possessions. The wise person recognizes their own limitations, trusts in God and understands that there is more to like than may be seen on the surface.
The Bible often points out that God’s wisdom is the reversal of ‘the wisdom of the world’. Christ’s sacrificial life and his teaching about love and humility may appear foolish by the world’s standards but, in reality, it expresses the Wisdom of God.
Home Our School Our Vision Compassion
Compassion’ and ‘sympathy’ have much in common and both are stronger in meaning than simply ‘feeling sorry for’ someone.
The words have their roots in the idea of ‘suffering with’ someone, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and experiencing what they experience. This leads to a desire to act, to do something. It is not patronizing. It is not about ‘doing good’ from a position of strength or ‘remembering those less fortunate than ourselves’. Compassion requires an act of imagination and humility to share in the lives of others. Notice the qualities that Paul links together. He says ‘clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ (Colossians 3:12)
Jesus showed compassion towards the ‘harassed and helpless’ crowds (Matthew 9.36) and his works of healing were always prompted by compassion for people’s suffering. He wept at the death of Lazarus and was moved to act.
The father in the parable of the Prodigal Son is not just forgiving. He is described as being filled with compassion. ‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’ (Luke 15:20) The father seems to understand everything that his son is feeling and responds by giving him everything he needs: a whole-hearted welcome, acceptance and love.
Fellowship Home Link
Generosity is just one way of showing fellowship towards others.
This can be achieved by giving our time, helping someone by using our talents as well as sharing our money or possessions.
Please click on the link to find out more.
Respect Home Link
It is important to show respect to everyone we meet. Please click on the link above to find our more.
Hope Home Link
Hope is much more than wishing for things to be different. Please click on the link below to find out more.
Forgiveness Home Link
Everybody makes mistakes and it is important that we can can both ask for forgiveness and know that we can be forgiven.
Please click on the link above for more information.
Wisdom Home Link
Wisdom is much more than being clever!
Please click on the link above to find out more.
Compassion Home Link
Jesus has given us an example to show compassion towards one another.
Please click on the link below to find out more.