Tonight my friend and I were teaching a class at church on God’s story and how it has been told in history through art. I ended the class by iterating the need to continue telling the story. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is preparing the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. He warns them that when you get there, there is going to be a lot of things around you that are going to distract you and pull you away. There is going to be a lot of things in the culture around you that may make you forget the story of how God saved you. Don’t forget the exodus. Don’t forget the great wonders that God has done. In other words, don’t forget the story. So how are they going to do that? They have to keep telling the story. Then when we look at the book of Judges, we see what happens when the people forget the story.
So, that was my class tonight. Now, I’ve put my 2-year-old George to bed and my wife is putting our 6-month-old Henry to bed. I just sat down on the couch and pulled my computer out and I can hear George singing at the top of his lungs in the other room, “My hope is built, on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness…” He is singing as loud as he can while lying in bed. It really melts my heart. Why do I find that significant? He’s learning and rehearsing the story. He’s hearing it from us in song and he is repeating that over and over, learning the story. Why? Our hope is that as he moves along in this world, he won’t forget God and what he has done. He won’t forget the exodus.
I said (very poorly I might add!) in my class tonight that I don’t like the message of the song “Jesus Loves Me”. Now before you get mad at me, hear me out. I know Jesus loves me and I want our kids to know it. I will keep singing that song with my kids. My problem is the reason why I know Jesus loves me according to that song. Yes, the bible does tell me so. I know on an intellectual level that Jesus loves me because the bible tells me so. However, I really know and understand that Jesus loves me because I see it lived out all around me. I learned it from a mom and dad who were always there and tried their hardest to display that love. I learned and am learning it from the selfless love of my wife. I see it everyday in my faith community from people who love those who are marginalized in our society. I know that Jesus loves me because I live and see the story lived everyday, and that takes it to a whole new level for me.
The purpose of our class on Wednesday nights and the purpose of this post is to make the point that the way to shape the people of God is to keep telling the story. We rehearse it each Sunday when we gather. We rehearse it each day when we love the people around us. We tell it through stories, art, song, and many other forms. However it is told, we must keep telling the story. We have to tell our children the story of what God has done, what he is doing, and what he is going to do. We have to tell the story about how our God brought us out of the land of slavery and sin and delivered us. If we want to see a people shaped and transformed and truly know that Jesus loves them, whether that is the people around us or the next generation, we have to tell them the story of Jesus.