I sat in bible class this Sunday. Not my first choice. Still, they pay me to be there so there I was.
(I get paid to go to church. Jealous?)
The class was for 4-6 grade. The topic, favor.
She asked them again and again about this word. Favor. Mary found favor. Favor with God.
What does that mean?
They looked at her. She asked again. They looked again.
The other teacher in the room jumped in with a story about how his children found favor with him by doing their chores.
Ah, they begin to catch on. Favor = pleasure. Do the thing and people are pleased with you.
The first teacher summed it up.
"How do you get God to find favor with you? You believe. You obey. You do service to others."
And all the children nodded.
Be right. Do good things. Then God is pleased with you. You get His favor.
I went home and cried.
You know I struggle with this freedom thing. I want it so! I want to give it to others. (sometimes)
I sat in this class and let these teachers use their freedom to teach these young hearts that God has requirements for His gifts.
This kind of talk is the reason I do not have my children in church. I do not want them raised in this place where sweet teachers lovingly teach them the exact wrong things about God.
I wanted to raise my hand.
I wanted to ask the question,
"is this how it worked with the prodigal son?"
I wanted to tell the children,
"this is not true. You have found favor with God. He is pleased with you. And you don't have to do anything...not one thing...to earn it."
I didn't say anything.
There is a time and place to call the truth to light. This was not the time, nor the place.
I just watched those God fearing teachers teach what they knew.
Fear God. Earn His pleasure. Be Good. Work hard. Get rewarded.
It is hard on my heart to go to work in a place that continually sucks the light from my soul.
That is so harsh.
I want you to know that this place is filled to the brim with really sweet people. I work with the children and they are delightful. Mostly I do not face problems with my beliefs clashing with the church boundaries. When you teach babies you get to say "God Loves You" all day long and nobody complains. There are no qualifications for this statement. It just is.
I can get behind it fully.
Sadly, babies grow up. They become big kids who need to fear for their salvation. They need to be taught how to be and do all the things. All the things.
I get it.
There is a responsibility to train them up in the way they should go.
Every time I punch in I face the moral dilemma that I am quite potentially living a lie. For money.
If I told the truth about how I feel... about my journey out of church and it's teachings...
well, I think they would very lovingly agree that I need to find work elsewhere.
They didn't ask.
They said, "do you love Jesus? are you saved?"
I said yes and they said, "you're hired".
Not very responsible of them.
Just because someone passes a background check does not mean they are qualified, or even desirable to be teaching your children.
I have been left to run un-checked through the confines of the church walls whispering freedom to every little ear that listens.
That amuses me greatly. I don't feel a giant calling in this. It is simply the place where I find peace in the midst of this weird moral storm.
I'm a freedom ninja. <snort>.
I do not believe that Mary found favor because she was so good. I think she found favor because God gave it to her.
"Here Mary, I got some favor for ya."
The angel just told her what already was.
I don't believe she "earned" it. I also don't believe God regretted the gift giving when she doubted her worth (or His sanity) a million times.
I don't even think He considered backsies when she got in her secret place and told Him it wasn't worth it.
Later on in this story is a very important detail that we must not forget.
A sky full of singing angels were commissioned to tell us something.
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests."
God is saying,
(in his best stage whisper with the heavenly host shouting do-wahs in the backgound)
"pssstttt...hey you...here, I got some favor for ya."
You have found favor with God.
He gives it freely.
He would like for you to know it.