The ruling that came down this week was not unexpected. It was a slow build that started in the 1960’s with the sexual revolution. What the ruling did was place the final nail in the coffin of Orthodox Christianity as the majority viewpoint in our country. As a country we have been drifting for years and we have finally hit the sand bar of post modernism with full force.
Here is what we don’t need to do. Freak out and bunker down. We must love and engage. The beautiful thing about Orthodox Christianity is that it is about true love, costly love. We as a culture have fallen in love with love. Not real love but the idea of love. Real love is not loving those who love you but loving those who hate you. Love is not a constitutional right, love is a gift. A gift that cost God what was most dear to him to ransom back to himself what was most far from him. We must convey this kind of love in everything we do and say. We must fight tolerance by actually loving our neighbors.
Jack Klumpenhower is the author of Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids.
His teaching resources can be found at theGospel Teacher
I recently read Jack’s book “Show Them Jesus” I so enjoyed it I asked Jack to guest post on my blog about how to teach the parts of the bible that are difficult. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.
Teaching the Bible’s Disturbing Stories
I’ve spent much of the past Sunday school year teaching through the book of Genesis for a class of elementary kids at my church. Just a few weeks into this class, I had a decision to make. The published curriculum I’m using as a rough guide had given me the expected lessons about creation and the sin of Adam and Eve, but it skipped the story that comes next in the Bible—where Cain murders his brother Abel.
I suspect the violent content had something to do with the publisher’s decision to skip that story. A bloody family killing does not feel kid-friendly.
But should I teach it anyway? On occasion, I too will decide it’s best to spare the youngest children from particularly rough stories or from certain details. I don’t enjoy shocking kids or telling them horrific tales. But usually I’ll go ahead and teach most Bible stories—including the gory or sinful parts. And in the case of Cain and Abel I hardly had to think about it. I knew I wanted to teach that story, and so I did.
During lesson time, I even drew a stick-figure picture of Cain standing over Abel’s body. Then I added some red smears for blood pooling on the ground. I was as gentle as I could be about it, soberly warning the kids that it was ugly and sad, but still I drew that picture. It was important for them to see it.
So why, of all things, would I want kids to see that? I have three main reasons, each of which applies not only to Cain and Abel but also to many other Bible stories.
- It’s good to teach the Bible the way God has given it. If we poke around the Bible looking to use just the cheery parts, we end up skewing its message. We give kids the idea that the Bible is something like Aesop’s fables or after-school cartoons instead of the gritty, soaring, beautifully diverse message from God that it is. We also might miss key themes.
With the Cain and Abel story, I recognized it as part of the Bible’s foundational opening pages and the introduction of a critical theme: the contrast between a bad heart mastered by sin and a good heart devoted to God. I didn’t want to skip over that. I also noticed that the Bible specifically mentions Abel’s blood five times (in four different books). That made the blood a necessary part of my lesson if I was going to be true to the Bible’s own emphasis.
C. S. Lewis in “The World’s Last Night” said:
“For my own part I hate and distrust reactions not only in religion but in everything. Luther surely spoke very good sense when he compared humanity to a drunkard who, after falling off his horse on the right, falls off it next time on the left.”
Life if full of tensions. In every aspect of church and life we see one way of doing things and we overreact. We do exactly what Lewis is describing we see something we don’t like in the bible, in church, or in life. Rather than holding onto both reigns and moving forward. Like a drunk rider we fall off one side only to get back up and fall off the other.
One of the questions I get asked often and find myself asking myself as I get older is “What would I do different if I could go back in time and tell young Sam something. I started doing ministry right out of bible college I went to four years of bible college and was thrown into ministry at the ripe age of 21. I helped a few of my friends from bible college re-start our youth ministry and took over the existing kids ministry. I was young, full of energy and stupid. If I could go back in time I would tell myself lots of things. If I had to tell myself only one thing it would be
“What you win them with is what you win them to.”
The struggle that every pastor has is relevance. Deep down we all want to be relevant. That’s because we are pastors and we want to meet real needs not perceived needs. The problem is not in the desire to be relevant but how we define relevance and who we elevate as the mentor, leader, prophets that help us understand what relevance means.
“Creativity is not coming up with new things but finding new ways to communicate old things”
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
The older I get and the longer I do ministry the more I realize that creativity is not coming up with something new. It’s reintroducing the old in a new way. One of the primary problems with the lack of creativity in any setting is due to what C.S. Lewis calls chronological snobbery.
“Barfield never made me an Anthroposophist, but his counterattacks destroyed forever two elements in my own thought. In the first place he made short work of what I have called my “chronological snobbery,” the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also “a period,” and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.”
What Lewis is getting at is we have a tendency to prefer new over old. Rather than really wrestling something to the ground and understanding it we tend to echo what already is poplar because we want to like more than we want to be effective. Creativity is copying what is already out there. Creativity is taking old ideas and making them new. It’s contextualizing things that are ancient and helping people see the value of what has always been valuable.
Our ability to create for the future is connected to the past. How well do we remember and understand the past will determine how effective we will be in the present and future. This sounds counter intuitive I know. Let me give you an example. Walt Disney. He is remembered for his creative vision of the future. While this is part of his creative legacy the reality is that he built the empire that we see today on a modern retelling of old Fairy Tales. If there was no Hans Christian Andersen there would likely be no Disney World, at least not the Disney we know and love.
Creativity works best when it is repackaging old things in such a way that you maintain what is core to the old truth and change the delivery mechanism. The more I read old books the more I realize that modern success is foundational dependent on past truth. So in our quest for creativity let not throw out the foundational things that allow us to build truth in creative ways. Part of the reason we fail to see the value of old things in creativity is because we look at creation in Genesis and see a God who made something from nothing. What we fail to do is looking to Revelation 21 where we see a God who makes old things new both are creativity. The later is what I believe we are called to as stewards of what God has made. We are called to make old things new.