Children Desiring God Plenary Session 1
The God-Centeredness of God
First caution regarding indoctrination: We must be careful not to simply indoctrinate children without a due concern that they should also have a good reason for believing them. Indoctrination tries to preserve a viewpoint from group to group or generation to generation without also helping them to “test all things and hold fast to what is good.” You shouldn’t just be passing on blocks of information. You should also be thinking about the process of how they learn to think about those truths.
Second caution regarding contextualization: It is amazingly helpful to think about how we do things with children first. Then, this helps us understand something about how to do ministry and missions. Contextualization is a hot buzzword today. Our task in contextualizing for kids is not merely contextualization as typically understood but concept creation (and with adults concept destruction).
When I say, for example, a ministry needs to be “God-centered,” everyone agrees. But when I talk about the God-centeredness of God, people shake their heads “No.” Do you feel more loved by God when he makes much of you or when he helps you make much of him forever?
Why is it so wrong for us to be self-exalting and so right for God to be self-exalting? We find examples of God exalting himself throughout the Bible: Ephesians 1:5; Psalm 19:1; Jeremiah 13:11; Psalm 106:7; Ezekiel 20:14; 1 Samuel 12:20; Romans 15:8; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Philippians 2:9; 1 Peter 4:11; Acts 12:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Habakkuk 2:14; Revelation 21:23
So, this creates a crisis in people’s lives. The idea of self-adulation is a huge moral hindrance to people believing in the God of the Bible.
John 11:1-4 (ESV):
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
He lets Lazarus die, because he loves them. How can this be love?
The main way that God loves us is not by making much of us or by sparing us trouble, but by making much of himself. Love does whatever it has to do to provide the beloved with the deepest and longest satisfaction. God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving thing.
We’re not into indoctrinating. We don’t merely do contextualization but create categories. All of life should be God-centered. A good litmus test of whether or not you are God centered is whether or not you can exalt in the God centeredness of God.