The sixth of our core values is that of growth through deepening our knowledge and love of God. This core value is captured in our vision statement by the word “cultivate.” Mission, inclusion and community only become possible as we grow in our knowledge of and relationship with Christ.
If we return for a moment to the Gospels, to the stories of Jesus' ministry, what we see is a great teacher at work. Jesus taught using parables, stories and aphorisms (short pithy statements). Jesus taught by referencing the Old Testament (Torah, prophets and writings). Jesus taught by demonstrating the values of the Kingdom of God in all that he did (forgiving, healing and ultimately dying on the cross). Jesus understood that for men, women and children to live into the kingdom of God there were lessons they needed to learn.
Unfortunately many of us have come to see Christian education (learning the stories of Jesus, the writings of the New Testament, the whole story of God's people in the Old Testament and how our Reformed tradition understands them) as a nonessential in our Christian faith. The stories which are intended to shape our faith and life are seen as being irrelevant because we have equated being faithful with merely being nice. Even the word "education" turns us off because it reeks of sitting in class being bored to death by someone who just drones on and on (if you know the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off think of the character played by Ben Stein). Even the idea of growth seems a bit odd considering that faith can be seen as no more than making a statement about Jesus when we are confirmed thus fulfilling our faith commitment.
So why then ought we to see education and spiritual growth as being important in our lives? The answer is blessing. By growing in knowledge of the Triune God we are blessed because we experience the love and grace of God more deeply each day, thus transforming our lives. By growing in knowledge of the Triune God we become capable of being a blessing to others by showing God's love and grace to a hurting world thus helping to transform God's creation. By growing in knowledge we grow in our love of God and neighbor thereby being the blessing we have been called by God to be.
The PCUSA Book of Order puts it this way;
"The Church is to be a community of witness, pointing beyond itself through word and work to the good news of God’s transforming grace in Christ Jesus its Lord." (F-1.0301)
In other words God is blessing this world in Jesus Christ through the Spirit and the more we know and grow the more we become capable of being blessed and of assisting in God's work of blessing.
The challenge for us then becomes to make an intentional choice to grow (both for ourselves and our children) in knowledge and love of God. If you want to know more about how to do this speak to me, Amy or Cindy and we can help point you in the right direction.