Anyone out there remember singing "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the House of the Lord?" Growing up in a traditional southern baptist church there were many songs we learned in Sunday School and Children's Choir. I can still remember most of the songs we sang and often catch myself singing them when I'm cleaning or cooking. They were always fun to sing and taught such great messages, or did they?
I was driving home with my youngest after preschool one day as she was singing "be careful little eyes what you see." You know that song? Be careful little eyes, hands, ears and mouth. I'm pretty sure just about anyone who has ever been to church has heard that song at one time or another. I began singing with her when she stops mid song and says "mommy, so God is like Santa? He doesn't give us presents if we're bad"? WHAT?? Arrow through my heart. I thought it would break in that moment. Now to some, that may not seem like such a bad question but to me, it is horrible. I know she is only four but we have spent a lot of time talking about Jesus on the cross and the thoughts of my little one thinking that Jesus only loves her and gives her things if she is good breaks my heart. We needed some Truth in that moment.
It became an excellent teaching moment and I took it. Several days ago I wrote about my ten year old saying that "Jesus lives in mommy's house." Today the question was asked of me, just where do I believe that God lives. I now want to tie it all together and share with you just as I did with my four year old.
Sunday school songs are great but they can, in fact, give us the wrong impression of God and may not always be theologically accurate. Be careful little eyes leads us to believe that God sits up in heaven and looks down on everything that we do and judges us. The song says "for the Father up above, He is looking down in love." When we are born again, God lives in us. When we accept Him by faith into our lives, He resides there.
We also have a habit as believers to teach that church is the "House of God." This too is untrue. The only time that God is present in a church, is when His children are present. He does not live within the four walls of our pristine brick buildings, with plush carpets, soft chairs and expensive sound equipment. There are probably even churches in existence where God is missing. We spend so much time focusing on the building where we think that God resides that we forget just where to find Him. Because of this we miss out on many intimate moments with Him.
One of the most powerful things about the gospel is that Christ came in order to free us from the concept that God lives within the fours walls of a building. God is not confined within our churches and only available to "special" people but instead He lives within all those who believe. He is accesible to all of His children.
So to conclude, Sunday school songs are not bad but we should be careful that we teach our children the true good news of the gospel. God is with us. He is Immanuel.
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,[a]
which means ‘God is with us.’”