Happy new year!
We have kicked off the year with a bang, and I couldn't be more excited about the things we get to talk about in High school this year. You can find a full breakdown of our tentative conversation topics on the schedule page, but we are planning to join the adults for the first six weeks of Sunday School, and move our beloved "Can I Ask That?" material to youth group. It has been working really well thus far, and I'm very encouraged by the engagement we are seeing in the Sunday School class! Watching your kids interact with the older generations on Sunday mornings is such a treat. I couldn't be more proud of our students.
This past week we took a look at the way Jesus approached socially unacceptable sinners in scripture, and heard Dr. Sprinkle share a little about "love that leads to obedience." He points to the example of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector who would have been a social pariah and likely hated by most of the people welcoming Jesus into town. Jesus’ first words to Zacchaeus are not “Repent and be saved, stop your greed and extortion at once!” Jesus looks to this tiny man in a tree and says “Come down, I must stay at your house today.” This was incredibly significant because sharing a meal with someone in Jesus’ day and age was a sign of friendship. The crowd of people go so far as to grumble about Jesus’ decision. Luke 19 does not mention anything specific about what Jesus says to Zacchaeus over lunch, but it records Zacchaeus’ response.
Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I am giving to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone, I am giving back four times as much."
Preston proposes that Zacchaeus repents because he was first accepted. He paints a distinct line between acceptance and affirmation, though the two are often conflated. We can accept and love people without ever affirming their sin!
In youth group we have been asking the question "Does God endorse violence?" This is a doozy. The book does an excellent job of framing this question as if it is coming from the perspective of a non-believer who genuinely believes that God is a petty, hateful, vindictive, ethnic cleanser. It points to stories like the flood and 1 Samuel 15:1 where Samuel tells Saul to wipe out the Amalekites and "kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey."
We spent some time sitting in discomfort and talking about the things that we have heard other people say about "the God of the OT vs the God of the NT" before we read the full context of those passages, and reflected on the timeless nature of God. The God of the Old Testament is clearly patient, giving chance after chance to His people, and moreover, He exists outside of time! Even as Adam and Eve were eating from the tree, Jesus was already planning to die on the cross.
We hope to wrap up this question this week Sunday and begin discussing "How can I follow a God that lets Christians do such bad things?" If you would like a few questions to ask your student to keep the conversation going at home, never hesitate to reach out!
Thanks for stopping by!!
I'm Noah. I do High School things. Expect this page to update every Tuesday morning!