As we move through our study on how God uses water to create and destroy and to kill and bring to life in Scripture; one thing has become crystal clear: kids in high school absolutely love the “athletic” parts of the Bible.
Nothing gets my students “animated” like death and destruction by plagues, famine, and of course by means of our current study: water. Given the chance to draw a picture, a couple of the kids stepped up to the plate and sketched out a not so happy rendition of Noah’s ark floating on
the water of a condemned earth. Departing from the cute motifs often seen taped up on nurseries and Sunday school classrooms, my students drew an ark floating on a world flooded by God’s righteous and holy wrath which included people drowning and drowned outside and beneath the ark. When the picture was done all were happy and justifiably proud of their work. Yep, they loves them some destruction and mayhem.
But guess what happened when someone added babies, pregnant women, and the elderly to those who had come under God’s righteous judgment on sinful mankind? Can you guess the class’s mood when they saw those who they are told always help and protect are also condemned to drown outside the safety of the ark along with the most vile murders and thieves?
I’ll admit that I was a bit taken aback with just how uncomfortable some in the class became with all of the human race falling under God’s judgment. More than one student explained that it just made them uneasy to see the “innocent” or weak drowned with the dregs of society. Some of the kids even had difficulty making eye contact during this part of the class. I guess cheering for babies drowning just ain’t as cool cheering for murderers getting their comeuppance.
It would’ve been all too easy for me to slam the kids, as so many often do (especially many in youth leadership positions within our own beloved synod who talk of community built on service in soup kitchens and such and coffee shop emoting apart from the community we are when we go to Church to hear His Word preached and receive His gifts in the Sacraments administered rightly), with a lecture on the keeping of the Law so that they can live transformed lives. It would be easy to tell them they just need to do better to live more sanctified lives so that they may have the assurance that they never will suffer the wrath that they deserve as they have inherited Adam’s curse. There was a time when I would’ve piled on with more and more law as so many did with me in my own youth. But, that was in the before times, in the long, long ago.
Living sanctified and good lives may be called for in Scripture but such is a result or an effect of the Gospel but not the Gospel proper. The Gospel is that Jesus took all the wrath that we, if we are honest here, so justly deserve upon himself and made satisfaction on the cursed tree at Golgotha. (John 1:29
, and also Romans 3:21–26
In our baptism, our old sinful selves are drowned and we are recreated as new creatures and brought into the ark of God’s one holy and Church catholic by the water and His Word. (Romans 6:4
and Titus 3:4–7
)! Those kids shamed with the understanding that they along with all of humanity are under the curse of the law knew that they deserved to be drowned but they didn’t completely understand when they came out of the water of their baptism they were just as safe as Noah in the ark.
The rest of the class was all Gospel in that we were assured, not by Mr. Gillespie’s word but by God’s Holy Word that God saves His people not on account of their own righteousness but the account of His only begotten Son’s work at the cross. I assured them that through Baptism the Lord made them heirs of heaven itself and as heirs they could be assured that were baptized into the ark eternal; Christ’s Church now and forever.
It was good to see that they understood that they were poor sinful creature deserving of God’s wrath. It was even better seeing the little light bulbs go off over their heads when they understood that they did rise out of the water of their baptism a new creation and placed aboard the ark of the Church. It was good to see that they understood sacramental nature of Noah’s story. It was good to see that they were able to join with Saint Peter and say in confidence that “Baptism saves
Labels: Catechesis, Sunday school, Youth