And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
In thinking about Paul’s words to the Corinthians this morning, I spent some time considering how this applies to teaching children. “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Right out of the gate, Paul tells me that I must be intentional in what I teach and it must be Jesus and the cross.
It’s so easy to fall off the saddle on one side, moralism, or the other, fun, fun, fun. Do you find yourself asking your children if they had fun in Sunday School or whether they behaved well for their teacher? There’s nothing wrong with having fun or exhibiting good behavior; it’s simply not the point. Faith comes by hearing the Gospel, the good news of Jesus’s perfect obedience to the Law, his sacrificial death for sinners, and his resurrection from the dead. If I go into lesson preparation focusing on fun activities, the children I teach will probably absorb the message that fun and games are more exciting than Jesus. On the other hand, if I focus on the good character of a Bible figure and how the children should imitate that behavior, the children will absorb the belief that good behavior earns points with God as well as their teacher.
The word I would like to emphasize here is focus. I must focus on the Gospel. The children may very well enjoy their Sunday School class and that’s wonderful. They may also see the grace God gave to Joseph or Moses or Paul to endure hardship, and that’s great too. But no child will have his or her life transformed by enjoying church activities or observing good character. Good times plus good people does not equal good news. The good news is what Jesus has done for us, not what we do to be accepted or found worthy by Him. And one of the most important things I do before I even start to prepare a lesson is direct the good news to my own heart. I must repent every day. I must rest in the righteousness of Christ. I must believe the Gospel.