“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from youselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
So much in our life tells us that it is our performance that makes us who we are. This is especially true in the lives of kids. Think what they hear from chore charts, report cards, standardized tests, recitals, and athletic banquets. The overwhelming message is, “If you do well, you will be rewarded; if you do not do well, you will lose your reward, and you may even be punished.” Performance—work and reward—is one of the basic structures of our lives. As a result, kids grow up thinking, “I am what I am because of what I do… or because of what I’ve failed to do.”
Have you ever thought about how different this “message of performance” is from the Bible’s message of redemption? In 1 Corinthians 15:10, the Apostle Paul says, “I am what I am by the grace of God.” I learned about God’s grace while sitting with my dad in his Dodge pick-up truck after school. I was in ninth grade, and I overwhelmed with things that seem silly now—schoolwork, acne, girls, and my scrawny physique. That day, my dad taught me a lesson that I pray I’ll never forget: “What God says about you is more important than what others say.”
In other conversations after that, I learned about what has been called the doctrines of grace—the simple message that who we are as Christians is not determined by what we do or what we look like, but by what God has done for us. These doctrines changed my life. By God’s grace, I’ve learned to believe God’s promises for me are true. What God has determined for me through the work of His Son Jesus makes me who I am. I am loved even when my performance doesn’t stack up. After all, Jesus came to save sinners, not those who get everything right.
In the Fall of 2011, SojournKids sailed through waters inhabited by the Proof Pirates! We put together that unit of study as a way of reclaiming the doctrines of grace for the next generation. We intend for this series to speak to children on two levels.
First, our kids need proof of God’s grace upon which they can stand. We want our kids to embrace and remember the doctrines of grace so that they can combat the performance messages they hear. We want them to know that it is not our performance that makes us right before God even when those voices come from inside their own heads. We want our kids to remember, like my dad said, that what God says about you is more important that what others say. We want them to remember, as the apostle Paul said, that it is God’s grace that makes believers who we are. We’ve designed this study as a tool to aid in remembering. Check out SojournKids At Home pages that will post hear and be handed out each week. Take time to memorize the PROOF acrostic with your kids, and check out the family devotional ideas in the sermon series devotional as well.
Second, Proof Pirates! tells a pirate adventure story about a boy named Jesse whose parents send him on a scavenger hunt. It is an adventure, because God’s grace should overwhelm us. It should fill us with a sense of adventure and wonder. Life is filled with dark passages. When the doctrines of grace are first encountered, even they are distressing—Does God only choose some? Is there a limit on what the cross can do? If he only takes some, can his blood cover me? But though God’s ways disturb us now, they will one day be found delightful. God’s message of sovereign love overtakes us when we need it most. When our kids are battling against sin and suffering, they need a picture of God’s love that overcomes their rebellion and their circumstances. Our hope is that they will never cease to be amazed that God reached down and saved scallywags like you and me. We want them to uncover the gospel as the greatest treasure so that they can’t stop talking about the mystery and beauty of what they’ve discovered.
Over the next two weeks, we plan to recap our pirate adventure and share with you the Proof Pirates curriculum in its entirety. Our hope is that you will first stagger at this amazing grace and then find that it is that same grace on which we stand.