Growing up in Sunday School, there was a very clear theme to what I was taught:
Don’t do this.
Don’t do this.
Don’t do this. Don’t do this. Don’t do this.
A good girl does this.
A good girl doesn’t do this.
God wants us to be good little girls and boys.
And though it might have been there in the subtext, what wasn’t said was: because Jesus… He wants every action to be for him. That’s what’ll make it good. Jesus wants what is very best for us, Jesus wants us to be the best version of ourselves, and Jesus wants us to follow him and his way.
That’s the why to the what. And, unfortunately, when I was growing up, the what became the Gospel when the why really was. I learned to do right and not to do wrong. I learned how to behave. I learned to be a moral person.
But what I didn’t really learn was the most important thing: I didn’t really learn what I should have learned about JESUS. Well, that may not be entirely true. I knew that Jesus was my saviour. And though I might not have fully understood it, I knew that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. In fact, that was my default answer for every Bible-based question until I was about 8 years old.
Beyond learning that Jesus came to save us from sin, I wish I had learned that he also came to show us God’s love, set up his kingdom, and shutdown religion. I wish I had learned that God’s story was one large story that started with the creation of the world, extended throughout the Old and New Testaments, and that the story is not yet finished.
I wish I had learned that I am a part of the same church that the people in Acts were a part of, and that as a part of the church and the kingdom of God, that I have a part to play in God’s story. And that when Jesus went back into heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to come and help us, guide us, and be with us to do big kingdom work.
That’s a lot more exciting than “do this” and “don’t do this.” A lot.
As we are developing curriculum at The Meeting House, there is something we want our kids and youth to be so very clear on: it’s about Jesus, it’s about Jesus, it’s about Jesus.
God does want them to be good little girls and boys (and so much more!), but it really isn’t about the outcome of their actions. It’s about the source. For Jesus to be Lord of our lives is to filter everything through a Christ-centred heart. For us to give our kids and youth the very best opportunity to get to know Jesus and become lifelong disciples, we need to do more than tell them what to do or not do. We need to help them encounter Jesus, get excited about his mission, and see their place in the kingdom.
That’s the hope. That’s the vision. That’s the plan.