Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Bible, Stories, and Sunday School

The Adult Bible Class is just finishing up 1 Samuel.  1 Samuel is one of those books of the bible that folks know quite a few of the stories from - they are Sunday School stories.  You have David and Goliath.  You have David being anointed King.  You might even get little Samuel saying, "Here am I, Lord!"  Great stories!

But in reading the book in detail (and also having gone over Genesis a while ago), I'm becoming more and more dissatisfied with how Sunday School is set up - what is covered.  I had been taught in my youth (both in Sunday School and even in parochial school) so much of the Scriptures by way of moral example -- see here, David is a good little boy, now you be a good little boy and trust in God too!  Be ready to serve like Samuel.

It always was something where you could end with "and the moral of the story is..."

As regards our youth, we've turned "Bible Stories" into tales of "here's how good Christians were well behaved."

Go read 1 Samuel.  It starts off with the priest assuming Samuel's mom was just another one of the drunken trollops his sons were partying with.  You see failure and heartache and stumbling -- everyone.  The heroes, the villains -- all of them sinners, all of them flawed.  And the difference is repentance.

We seem to lose the fact that the point of the stories (the moral of the stories, if you will) isn't "You Can!" -- it's rather, "You're a sinner, even the greatest heroes of the faith were... and you need to repent." 

1 Samuel 25 is fantastic for this - David's rage... and the thanks he gives to God when Abigail gets in his way and keeps him from doing something stupid.  "And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand!"  (But read it in the King James - because that's where you actually see David's anger -- he doesn't say he's going to kill "the men" of Nabal... )

We have sanitized the sin out of the stories we tell our kids -- but the whole point is that our entire lives will have to be ones of repentance, where we never trust our own strength but rather rely upon God's mercy, rely upon the forgiveness won by Christ Jesus.  

If it's not driving and pointing to Christ and His redemption, you've simply neutered the bible.

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