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Kids Say The Darndest Things

Kids Say the Darndest Things is a TV show originally hosted by Art Linkletter from 1959-1967. It has been reprised a couple of times, first with Bill Cosby and later Tiffany Haddish as hosts. I am old enough that when I hear the title, I fondly remember the original. It was heartwarming in its innocence and sometimes hilarious. If you've ever taught children, you will identify with the questions and answers in this clip.

Jesus Loves the Little Children

I love kids. I particularly like their unfiltered honesty. When I was the pastor of a church, I told the congregation if I did not have to preach on Sundays, I would teach Sunday School. I meant it then and now; I get to do it. Teaching children about Jesus and the Bible is one of the most important things we can do. It provides an understanding of God's love and a moral foundation that serves them, their families, and their communities well.

As parents and teachers, we often think we are preparing our children for life and challenges that they will face in the future. But we need to understand that children are loved and cherished by God right now. In many cases they are already fellow heirs of the promise of eternal life in Christ Jesus, and are capable of remarkable acts of love, compassion, and ministry to others that may put adults to shame.

They are also transparent little windows into the truth, culture, and practices of our families and churches.

Sunday School Stick Figures

stick figure
Budding Artists

Recently I taught Sunday School for grades 3-6 from First Corinthians, Chapter 12. When we reached the analogy of people compared to different parts of the body I drew a stick figure body on the board without any appendages. Then as we read verses 12-26, I had each of them draw the body parts in the order that they are mentioned - foot, hand, ear, eye, nose.

The main difficulty as they tried to locate, size, and draw the various parts on the body was that there was no head. They all complained that it was almost impossible to draw things in the right place and make the body make sense. Some quit trying to be accurate and let their imagination run wild. It was a riot!

stick figure no head
Wait...Something's Missing

One foot was huge, the other small. One hand resembled a peanut, the other a giant claw. The ears looked somewhat like mutant elephants. One eye was near the left knee, the other floating in space above the neck. A gigantic nose jutted out to the side with huge boogers hanging out. Did I mention all of the kids in class that day were boys? So, of course, boogers. We laughed a lot!

Scripture Provides The Key

Finally, we read this verse in I Corinthians 12:21 and it all started to come together.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”

If you've read this before, have you noticed that the head comes last on the list? I confess, I hadn't considered this until I used the drawing as an illustration. But sure enough, there's the head at the end, just as the Apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit laid out in scripture. Maybe God did that to send a message to the church, not only in Corinth, but the Church universal. When we added the head, it was obvious just how out of whack and grotesque the body they created had become.

The Darndest Thing

Then I asked the boys a question, "Who is the head of the Church?" In unison they excitedly shouted, "the Pastor!" Stunned and wondering to myself how we had failed them so badly as teachers of scripture and truth, I informed them that wasn't the correct answer. Now it was their turn to be shocked. I asked them to try again. After a few seconds of reflection one of them quietly posited, "God?" Finally, another tentatively gave the Sunday School catch-all answer, "Jesus?" In this case, he was correct.

That was a serious "wow" moment for me.

Jesus Is The Head Of The Church

The Bible is actually quite clear on this point.

Colossians 1:18, "And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent."
Ephesians 1:22-23, "And he (God the Father) put all things under his feet and gave him (Jesus) as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."

Trouble in The Church

I suddenly had a much better understanding why the church in Corinth had the serious problems that are addressed in Paul's letter. Disunity, rebellion to God's authority, spiritual pride and abuse, exalting one leader over another, arguing over spiritual gifts, tolerance of sexual immorality, and lawsuits in the church, all causing the church to be viewed as disreputable and dishonored in the community. It appears nothing much has changed since then. These issues and more all have one common cause. Bad things happen when Christians do not recognize or honor Jesus as the Head of the Church.

What Is Church?

times square billboard
NY Times Square

In my book I comment on the troubling historical pattern of Christians abandoning the headship of Jesus for someone or something else.

"During the first 300 years or so of its existence the Church slowly drifted away from the foundation laid by Jesus and the Apostles in the Bible. Increasing dependence on human rather than divine leadership led to the teachings of men replacing the teachings of scripture. Obedience to men soon became a demand by those in power in the church. Authority to rule was granted by believers and enforced by powerful rulers. Power corrupts." 

If I were to ask adults the question, "Who is the head of the Church?" some might be savvy enough say Jesus. However, it is just as likely that most immediately think of someone else. Like these children they might name someone with the title Pastor, Bishop, Teacher, or Apostle. Some might point to one of the Popes, an Elder or Elders, maybe a Deacon Board. It might be the President of a denominational body, an Archbishop, the King or Queen, the Secretary General, Chairman of the church board, or the General Conference. The list goes on. However, the Bible is clear. Jesus alone is the Head of the Church. It is dangerous to place that kind of faith and church power in the hands of fallible humans.

The Way, The Truth, The Life

Is it any wonder #churchabuse has 18,000 related posts on Instagram and trends heavily on search engines and social media app? And those are just the people that care enough to comment openly. How many more have simply withdrawn from church to suffer in silence? The hashtag #dones is associated with over 243,000 posts on Instagram alone.

For those that remain in the Church, we have to do better. We must first teach children and adults the whole Bible, for real. Then, we must teach and model the importance of obeying God and His Word. It is imperative that we search our own hearts, examine our own churches, and ask the Holy Spirit to help us discern just what master or masters we are serving. If my head isn't Jesus, I need to repent. If the head of the church isn't Jesus, we need to repent. He alone is worthy of our praise, our love, and our loyalty.

Matthew 18:2-4 NLT, "Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."

If you have been harmed by a church that placed its trust in someone other than Jesus, please don't abandon your faith in Christ. Reach out to a faithful friend or send me a note and I'll try and find someone that can help you. Please know this; Jesus loves you. He alone is your Lord and your Redeemer. And somewhere nearby, there are faithful friends and a faithful church with Jesus as the Head that you can trust and journey with.

Psalm 42:11

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