The family that I’m working with is going to VBS this week. When they were practicing songs for Bible school, he noticed that his Mom had changed one of the motions in the song and blurted out, “But Mom, you’re doing it wrong.” I had to explain that the sign in the song was actually at the wrong time, and to correct it we had to switch two of them. This appeased him. The kiddo I work with never ceases to fascinate and amuse me. He is so honest and insistent. Whenever I go to VBS or sit in on a Sunday school lesson with kids who are so young, I’m always amazed at just how far we are from what we preach. We raise kids on the stories of the Good Samaritan, Loaves and Fishes, Healing the Lame. We sell them on all the miracles of simple kindness and in a couple years, we criticize them for being naive. We raise them telling them that helping the poor is what Christ did. He fed the hungry, healed the sick. He didn’t criticize people or belittle them. Even when his friends turned on him, He didn’t get angry at them, and He always forgave.
In my kiddos class, a kid came up to me talking about people who don’t have enough to eat. She said, “we should share some food with them because that would be the nice thing to do.” After she said it, I pictured the way my kiddo let’s you know you’re doing it wrong. “But____, you’re doing it wrong!” We can’t even approach it in such a whole way. We need to rationalize and debate and talk about all the other factors that don’t really matter. Kids see right to the heart of it.
- This person is hungry.
- Jesus fed the hungry.
- I should feed the hungry person.
Children see A+B=C. They see it simply, clearly. We’re stuck in the calculus of semantics, dependence, and selfishness. This is what I think Christ meant when He said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 Unless we let go of these complicated, convoluted arguments and get back to the simple- we’ll get left out.
What’s simple is true, but not easy. That’s why we don’t want to do it. Karen Armstrong said that when she talks to congregations about compassion, she sees mutinous expressions cloud the faces in the room. Why? She believes it’s because most adults would rather be right than compassionate, and talking about compassion steps on their toes and convicts them making them uncomfortable. I remember the churches I grew up in, people would complain about a ‘soft’ approach from churches always talking about love and peace. They would say that those kinds of churches never convicted people, never challenged them. How backward are we? How far from Christ’s message have we gone?
The only shot we have to get back is to start seeing the world like children- Keep It Simple, Stupid. Whatever Christ did, we should do it. Whatever Christ talked about, we should talk about. If we don’t, we’re going to lose the next generation. Right now, they are all growing up to find out that everything they had been taught was a lie. And many of them liked what they were taught. They liked it simple. Now as they grow, they find that being mean is how we love sinners. That not feeding the hungry, helps the hungry. That not giving money to the poor, prevents them from doing something bad with it. Instead of doing good, like they were told to do, they’re expected to prevent evil. They fail and fail, because they aren’t doing what they should be doing and eventually they just give up. Christianity just doesn’t work they way they were taught and they turn to worldly solutions to moral problems. That’s not the fault of Christ’s way of doing things, it’s ours. We are not responsible for anyone else’s morality. We are only responsible for our own. Christ showed us to love unconditionally, whether the people changed or not. When he speaks to the woman who was married several times and seeing a man that she was not married to, we never know if she stops doing it or not. Why? Because it doesn’t matter! Christ said and did what he needed to say and do to show her the spirit of God, and let God do the rest. We are not tools of conviction for the lost. We are the example of Christ that they should see God through, and God does the rest. The church however, is an area where Christ did example criticism and outright conviction. Those people who have chosen to enter into the same covenant and with whom we have a relationship that could allow for constructive criticism can definitely be told by their co-laborers “But guys, you’re doing it wrong.” So here I am saying to some fellow Christians, “hey guys, we’re doing it wrong.”