Earlier this summer, our family made a pilgrimage to the ultimate summer vacation destination, Disneyland. As we navigated the crowds, I noticed a common trait among our fellow mouse-eared tourists. With the exception of a few overstimulated toddlers and stressed-out parents, everyone around us was smiling and laughing. The strangers...
All I really need to know…I learned in kindergarten. (Robert Fulghum)
I’m a kindergarten teacher. And I think Robert Fulghum was on the right track when he said that all he needed to know he learned in kindergarten.
As I looked back over my year with the students, I realized that all we need to know about the gospel we could also learn in kindergarten – but these “lessons” are not about me or the students. They’re all about Jesus.
So here are three kindergarten lessons, taken from Fulghum, that can point us to the transformative gospel:
Lesson #1: Be Aware of Wonder
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. (Fulghum)
Yes, we are to wonder. To look around and delight in the gifts God has given us. God is the Creator of heaven and earth. He is the Creator of all good things. He created me. He created you: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3).
Yet, we lose our wonder by the distractions of life. We hurry through our checklists so we can move to the next activity without actually enjoying the present moment. Responsibilities become the reason for living instead of the glory of God. Our wonder falls by the wayside.
But Christians are like those shoots in the tiny cup, God accomplishing our salvation and growth through his Spirit. Jesus Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith. He was in the beginning, and he will be for all eternity. This is wondrous. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says,
But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Lesson #2: Stick Together
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. (Fulghum)
Because I work with kindergarteners, this one brings a smile to my face, as it probably does for any person who has ever seen a child offer a hand to his or her buddy who fell off the swing at the playground.
We need people in our lives who will not only hold our hands, but cultivate our hearts. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says.
Mentors pour into our spiritual lives. A community surrounds us to support us. A church body helps us become an active member who will help the church grow stronger in Christlike maturity.
God intends that Christians stick together as we follow Jesus and bring him glory.
Lesson #3: Don’t Clean Up Your Mess
Clean up your own mess! (Fulghum)
This lesson may work in the kindergarten classroom, but it certainly will not work in real life because we cannot clean up our mess. In fact, that’s the very reason Jesus came as Savior – to cleanse us of sin – to forgive us and make us new creations in him. The old is gone, the new has come.
Yet, we often try to hang our salvation on what we do. We attempt to “clean up our mess” through good works like going to church or following the Ten Commandments, instead of realizing our salvation comes solely from the finished work of Jesus.
We can never stop sinning fast enough. We can never serve enough orphans. And we certainly can never atone for our sin. But Jesus Christ took it upon himself at the cross and gives us his purity in exchange. We can never repay him. But he still cleaned up our mess. He made a way so we could live with him forever.
Brothers and sisters, take to heart some lessons from kindergarten. Be aware of wonder, stick together, and don’t clean up your mess – because you can’t.
But Jesus can, and he did, for you.