Friday, February 5, 2010

Every Thing I Need to Know

Since I am a former schoolteacher, and my husband also has a career in education, no one who knows us is surprised that schools, learning, and educational issues are important to our family. You might imagine that a few years ago when I heard about a little essay entitled “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten,” I was intrigued. The basic idea behind the essay was that the most important bits of wisdom were taught and learned, not at the top of the educational ladder, but down near the sandbox. For example: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.”

That little essay got me thinking about some of the other important truths I had learned as a child. As I thought over my childhood, growing up in the little town of Central, South Carolina, I realized that for me, at least, everything I really need to know, I learned in Sunday School. We adults can make faith a very complicated thing--as complicated as predestination, post or pre-millennialism, or the anti-Christ. But faith is profoundly simple—as simple as Love, Believe, or Jesus. Sometimes in our desire to become spiritually mature, we forget the lessons we learned in Sunday School are still the most important, such as:

1) God is love
When I was a little girl, I memorized five Bible verses, and as a reward, was given a “little motto” that glowed in the dark. It said, “God is Love.” What a comfort it was for me to see it in the nighttime while I lay in my bed. God’s love—what a topic! I’m told of a minister who created 600 outlines for John 3:16—all different, all unique. Think of the greatest love you have ever experienced. Perhaps it’s the love of a parent for a child. Well, God’s love is greater. Think of the best friend you ever had. Well, God’s love is greater. Think of the closest relationship you ever had with anyone. God’s love is greater. Someone has said: “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart. What about the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem; not to mention that Friday at Calvary? Face it; He’s crazy about you!”

2) Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
In the Book of John Jesus tells his disciples that all men will know they are His disciples if “you love one another.” Jesus is giving a new identity or symbol for his disciples. He tells them that they will be known for their love for one another. We might guess that it would be the symbol of the cross, or perhaps a finger pointed towards heaven, or maybe even the fish symbol. However, if you guessed those as the symbol of New Testament Christians, you would be wrong. Instead these early Christians were to be identified by their love for each other. With that in mind, what if I evaluated every action toward my neighbor in terms of “me in her shoes?” What if I refused to respond when I heard critical words hurled at me? What if I tried to look at the world through someone else’s eyes? Maybe the greatest stumbling block that we put in the path of people who would see Jesus in us is that we are not committed to following the life that He suggests: one that is marked by love.

3) Every Problem Has One or Two Answers: Jesus or God
Have you ever worked in a toddler or preschool class at church? Ask them a question from the Bible, and see their hands go up, waving, yelling the answer: “Jesus—God” Even if they don’t hear the question, they know the answer. Imagine a group of adults living each day genuinely believing and acting like Jesus is the answer to every question, to every problem.

4) Jesus Loves Me, This I Know. For the Bible Tells Me So…
John 15:9 says: “Just as the Father loved Me, I have also loved you.” That is the meaning of Christianity. God has loved us and expressed that love by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for us.
“For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when He died for us.” Romans 8:38-39 TLB

So you see…it’s not complicated after all. It’s really not difficult to understand. It’s as simple as what you learned in Sunday School!

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