How are our vision and values rooted in Christian Teachings?
Flourishing together within the love of God.
As an inclusive and caring church school, we aim to provide an excellent education and develop a life-long love of learning. We see all members of our school family as valued and valuable in the eyes of God, and we will support and challenge everyone to achieve their full potential.
“I come to bring life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10)
Jesus teaches that the greatest commandment any person can follow is to, “ ‘Love God… and love your neighbour as you love yourself’” (Mark 12:30-31). For Christians, this is the touchstone of human action – stories told by Jesus, such as the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), and ways in which he modelled this teaching in his own life (e.g. John 13:1-17) indicate the central place it takes in Christian thought and living.
‘Loving your neighbour as you love yourself’ is exemplified in the way in which Christians seek to serve others. Service requires compassion: a fundamental element of serving others is empathising with their experiences and seeking to transform these experiences for the better. Throughout the gospels, Jesus shows compassion for those around him, including the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42), the paralysed man (Mark 2:1-12) and his friend, Lazarus (John 11:1-44). Christians believe that by becoming human in the person of Jesus Christ, God understands our suffering and is alongside us when we suffer. They believe God calls them to show compassion towards all those in need.
Serving others is also modelled in the way in which Christians are called to show forgiveness to those who have caused them harm. The Bible describes God as “slow to anger, abounding in love, and forgiving” (Numbers 14:18) and Christians pray that God will “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” (The Lord’s Prayer). Jesus taught his followers that they, too, should be forgiving, encouraging them to forgive “ ‘seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22). Forgiveness is not easy: it requires letting go of a hurt that has been caused. But the gift of forgiveness can be transformative for the one forgiven and it is in this way that forgiveness is a form of trusting others.
Christians believe that all human beings are interconnected. They see each person as valued and valuable because they have been made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26). This connectedness means that Christians see it as their responsibility to serve all people (Romans 14:7). Church schools were original founded to serve the children and families of local parish communities, regardless of whether they belonged to the Christian faith or not. Christians believe that serving others means taking responsibility for the fact that we are all bound together in a single human race, that we should “ ‘love one another as I have loved you’” (John 13:34). This is the core of our teaching at Riston.
Christians work towards a vision of the world as a place of peace, love and justice. In this vision, each person is offered respect in their uniqueness in the eyes of God. Respect means providing all people with what is right and fair for them: life, health, freedom, and dignity. The Bible is full of teachings about treating people respectfully (e.g. Exodus 23:2, 6). Paul, one of the founders of the early Christian church, writes in his letter to the Romans that they should “honour one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). Living respectfully is about creating a culture in which each person recognises that their own good is bound up with the good of others. This is the culture we foster at Riston.
Our core values
To help people understand what it means to “ ‘Love God… and love your neighbour as you love yourself’” (Mark 12:30-31), Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In it, he answers the question, ‘who is my neighbour?’, emphasising the Christian belief that all human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and are therefore to be valued equally. The divisions of society, gender, culture, religion, and so on, can prevent us from seeing our shared humanity and lead us to treat people differently. Christians seek to be a good neighbour to all by seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings and offering friendship to all in recognition of this (Proverbs 17:17).
St Peter encourages Christians to “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11) and building friendships by being a good neighbour is one way of doing this. The Christian understanding of the Kingdom of God is a society in which all exist peacefully and harmoniously together. It is a society in which nation does not fight against nation (Isaiah 2:4), but one in which people recognise each other’s value and act towards each other as good neighbours. Seeking peace is such an important part of the kind of society that God wants that it is mentioned in one of Jesus’ greatest teachings, the Sermon on the Mount (“ ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.’” Matthew 5:19).
Being a good neighbour means showing love towards others, even when we don’t know them very well. Christians understand God to be loving (“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16); Jesus’ sacrifice of his own life on the cross is an example of the greatest love that can be shown (John 15:13). Christians seek to imitate his love for humanity by showing love to others – by making sure that they are always being a good neighbour. Love is described in the Bible as the greatest force in the world (1 Corinthians 13:13) – it can transform lives and societies, but it will only have power if it is acted upon. It is not enough to be motivated by love to see others as neighbours; Christians must act on this impulse to transform for the better the lives of those around them.
This is an image of a society in which all human beings recognise their shared humanity and are motivated by love to seek the good of others. It is a commitment to ‘being in it together’ and at Riston we give thanks for this in prayer and in worship.
At Riston we know that each of us has our own gifts and talents. No single person is the same as another, but each person has their individual role to play in the world. At Riston we encourage everyone to recognise and give thanks for their own individual gifts and talents. By having self-belief, each person can use their gifts and talents to help themselves and the whole of society flourish.