Fall is upon us! ‘Tis the season of football games and golden harvest moons and carved pumpkins and delicious church suppers and the challenge of teaching classes of energetic, young Confirmands the truth about the Kingdom of God. It’s the challenge of teaching them about a Kingdom that has no boundaries, no borders, no ports of entry, in a world that’s all about borders and protecting them to make sure no one from the outside crosses in. It’s the challenge of teaching them that God desires to welcome ALL people INTO the Kingdom, in a world where nations and people are vehement about keeping outsiders out, thank you!
But the challenge is greater than just teaching them about what an unseen Kingdom looks like! There’s also the business about how the Kingdom is structured. In a world that knows all too well about pyramidal power structures-you know, where the greatest one is on top calling the shots, and the burden is borne by those on the bottom-we’re called upon to teach about a Kingdom with a power structure that is completely inverted-where the greatest one is at the point on the bottom supporting the whole thing. And, we’re called upon to proclaim that that greatest one is none other than Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God in a world where it seems virtually everyone is on the social media proclaiming to be “the greatest” AND the center of the universe.
It’s a challenge that includes teaching “the golden rule”-do unto others as you would want them to do unto you-in a world culture that’s all about fleecing others before they have a chance to fleece you. It’s about teaching them to share God’s abundant resources in a world that is bombarded with images of shortages and suffering and want.
And in a world that knows all too well about laws that are made to keep people constrained, it’s the struggle to teach about laws (commandments) that God gave to protect us and keep us safe and give us freedom from the otherwise natural consequences. It’s the struggle to teach about the benefits of KEEPING The Law amidst a people preoccupied with the business of trying to find loopholes to get around the laws we don’t particularly care for.
However the greatest challenge is teaching about God’s grace in classes that, for a whole host of reasons, only accomplish the task at hand when the consequence of breaking a rule is enforced. And it’s compounded because NO ONE-not even a pastor-fully comprehends the radical nature of the grace of God. It’s so foreign to a culture in which “there ain’t no free lunch” to conceive of a God who willingly forgives (or covers over) sins with the righteousness (or right standing with God) of God’s only son! And when you throw in the concept of that right standing being based on God’s son dying to pay the price of our sins, it literally blows out minds.
But that’s what we’re called upon to teach. And, thank God, there are those around us who willingly rise to help with the challenge of teaching all this to our budding young people and an even larger group who willingly models the presence of the Kingdom of God right here among us on this earth. And God bless all of you who are striving to receive the gift of the Kingdom of God and to live into it-right here, right now, on this earth that is such an integral part of God’s good creation.
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