Someone responded last week to my most recent Day1 sermon, the one entitled "The Thunk, The Gap, and The Six A's." If you didn't catch it, you can find it in the Day1 sermon library. In that sermon, I talked about some of the ways in which people can be injured or wounded by some of the things we teach in church.
This person shared her concern about the "negativity we throw into" children when we teach them steadily about what sinners they are. And, in what I thought was a terrific insight, she further observed that healthy people don't want to go "where they feel beaten down."
There are many ways to look at the nature of human beings. Of course, one is to view us humans as thoroughly and hopelessly riddled with sin, and that anthropology has been at the front and center of the church's message for a long time. We are "bent to sinning," "totally depraved," "not worthy," just to mention a few of the more prominent thoughts.
Now, I'm not one to suggest that we're perfect! And, of course we struggle and stumble and make mistakes. And, of course, we often entertain attitudes and engage in practices that are less than helpful and occasionally downright mean. But, I also believe that there is a beauty and potential within us, waiting to be tapped, waiting to be actualized. And, I also believe that love and acceptance and encouragement are the best ways to tap that.
When is the last time your church entered into a prayerful dialogue about the things that you want people to learn from being a part of your church? What if our Church Councils invested as much time in thinking about what we are teaching as they do in hearing reports and crunching numbers? Will the person who grows up in your church hear more about their vileness or their beauty? Will they receive more messages of encouragement or of shame and guilt? Will you remind them often that they are a precious child of God or a sinner who falls far short?
That Day1 listener is right. Healthy people won't go where they feel beaten down. People who hear about the amazing ways that they can help the world be a better place will be happy to do amazing things to help the world be a better place!
Teach your children well--the young children of God and those with more years on them. Teach them about all that they can be and about the utterly limitless and boundless potential for love that waits within them.