Thursday, March 06, 2008

This week's Sabbath School lesson: fumbling the call

"Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise to ask such questions" -- Ecclesiastes 7:10, NIV.
Few myths are more popular than that of a "Golden Age," i.e. the myth of a time long-ago, when all the women were strong, all the men were good-looking, and all the children knew how to behave themselves in church.

But in this week's lesson, we learn that God's people have always behaved badly. Even the apostles were not always saints -- and at times, their behavior sounds less like the Beatitudes than like a catalog of the Seven Deadly Sins:
  • When Christ fed the five thousand, for instance, John 6 suggests the Twelve backed the crowd's attempt to make Jesus a king by force.
  • In Luke 9, they wanted Jesus to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village.
  • John 12 tells us how the disciples criticized Mary's care for Jesus; in the process, one of the disciples is revealed to be a thief.
  • And when Jesus was arrested, John 18 says Peter denied ever following Jesus -- and he did so three times!
In short, there is hardly a sin in the church today that you won't find in its Golden Age of the Apostles -- and as a teacher, that leaves you with two options:
  • You can use this lesson to discuss Things We Should Not Do.
  • You can use this lesson to discuss God's love, even for people who do bad things.
Which of the two you emphasize will depend on the needs of your class. If your class is full of psychotics, after all, they may need a check on their behavior; if your class is full of neurotics, they may need some encouragement.

But in either case, your class needs to understand that God's love and power is not confined to some mythical Golden Age of the past.

No, the God of yesterday is still the God of today.

And God's people needed Him yesterday just as much as we do today.

No comments: