Thursday, September 26, 2013

Do We Teach and Model Grace?

What are we teaching the children in our ministries? I mean, really. What are we really teaching them? Beyond teaching the Bible lessons, do we focus on teaching children all the "do's" and "do nots" in the Bible? Do our actions and attitudes teach children they better do and do not certain things? What are they really learning from us?

 I grew up in a very "conservative" church background . . . it would be fairly accurate to say it was quite legalistic. There were things we did and things we definitely did not do. Now, please do not get me wrong, it is a good thing there were things I did - such as read my Bible, memorize Scripture, go to church, serve in the children's ministry at my church, etc. But, these things were done, not so much because I loved God, but because there were things I had to do.

Likewise, there were things I did not do; I didn't drink, smoke, swear, dance . . . the list went on and on. Again, these things were not done, not so much because I loved God, but because they were things I just could NOT do - at least if I was a Christian.

It took many years before I was in a church where the pastor taught how God always tells us the truth about ourselves, but He does it with grace. He said if we only teach the truth, we end up with legalism. If we only teach the grace, we end up with liberalism. He said we needed a balance of truth and grace. God's truth is the truth, but He always gives us grace and this is the way we needed to approach life with others.

This was life-changing for me! I could serve God because I love Him, not because I had to do so. I could make wise choices because I love God, not because I had to do so. And, when I messed up, I could turn to God for grace and know He would give it! 

This changed how I looked at others. I could share the truth with grace; not in a judgmental or harsh way. My pastor at the church I belong to now said something this week which fits with all this; he said, "No one who was in sin during Jesus' time thought he was mean-spirited, judgmental and hypocritical.  So somehow it is possible to stand for the truth without exemplifying these attitudes."

He is right! It is possible to stand for the truth without exemplifying harsh attitudes! We need to teach the children in our ministries this truth by word, deed and our own attitudes. We need to teach and model grace!

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