A common question I hear is what is the most important thing you think should be taught regarding Christian Education. That question runs the same risk as asking a painter their favorite color or a writer their favorite word. The answer will inevitably take too long and fail in addressing the original inquiry. To be fair, my answer to said question probably changes with my mood and my context. After spending last Tuesday trying to write Sunday School curriculum with the General Conference proceedings live in the background, I think the most important thing I can teach about the Church is that it is not always perfect.
There’s a concept in the New Testament referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven. At its core, this phrase does not refer to a place good people go when they die. It doesn’t refer to any geographical location. The Kingdom of Heaven is more of an ideal emerging into our reality. Imagine a community in which no one is mistreated, all basic needs are accounted for, and everyone is welcome. That is THE Kingdom of Heaven. However, when this kingdom is mentioned in the Bible, it is referred to as something that is simultaneously approaching, here, and, yet, not quite fully realized. In other words, it’s something that we can conceive of and bring about, but we haven’t fully accomplished that goal. Maybe the Kingdom of Heaven is a pipe dream… or maybe it is the strong pull of my faith calling me to action.
I’m hurt. I’m disappointed. I’m frustrated. I’m not happy with the decision made by the United Methodist Church. People are people no matter who they are or who they love. My faith tells me to love everyone. The General Conference may have made a decision that contradicts my faith, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree. More importantly, it doesn’t mean I have to give up being a United Methodist. My faith tells me to take a stand and continue the work I’ve been doing even when the institutional Church lets me down. What’s the most important thing I can teach in Christian Education? God is love. The Church is meant to be the manifestation of that love. If anyone in the Church attempts to add prerequisites to receiving God’s love, my response will always be, to quote a lovely sign in Rev. Cynthia’s office, “ya’ll need Jesus.”