The other day after service, we went to get Em from kid's church. A leader said, lightheartedly (not any other way), "Your kid didn't know the first 5 books of the Bible...I was surprised...I mean, she's your kid." I answered, without a beat, and not in defense, by any means, "I'm not really concerned that she have the books of the Bible memorized...I want her to know its content and message. She's had two different kids' Bibles read to her over 15 times in 9 years, I'm pretty sure that's more important."
As Jason, Em, Ry and I walked toward the car, I said, "Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy...wait, Deuteronomy then Numbers...no, that was right..." (And I was a Theology major.)
Jason said, "That's what a Table of Contents is for..."
Em chimed in, "Exactly!"
I know the leader wasn't being legalistic. That's not the kind of church we attend. However, could it be that one of the many reasons people stray away from God at an age of reason or when disaster, tragedy, complacency, or life strikes is because their foundation is only knowing the song, "Jesus loves me" or having all the books of the Bible memorized?
There's more to God than rote religious recollection.
He's the Main Character of a True Story.
He's a really big deal!
Honestly, to be quite un-Christian, who gives a rip if you have all the books memorized? That is, if you don't know what the heck they convey!!!!!
Do you have all the chapter titles of your most recent novel memorized? If you did, we'd all think you were weird. What we would want to know is how you liked the book? Was it good? What was your favorite part? What was it that kept you reading? Did it evoke emotion? Could you identify with any of the characters? Was it profound? Would you recommend it to your friends or even suggest it for your next month's book club? Is it one you would want to read again, maybe even three times?
Since Em was a baby I have read the Bible to her while she ate. It's almost like Pavlov's dog...she wants food and Food when she's hungry. Her "Beginner's Bible" we got through probably 10 times, to be conservative. In the last 3 years we've read "The Picture Bible" 5 times through. Last year in homeschool Em read me her "Beginner's Bible" from beginning to end. There have been a few other versions here and there that she and I have read excerpts from, but the point is, my 9 year old knows the message and the content of God's heart, relayed through scripture, keen observation and the lives of loving people around her on a daily basis.
I'm not boasting that my kid is smarter than yours...believe me, "bumper stickers" is a post for another day...what I am saying is that content is more important than a chapter title...and, if you were to ask Emily to recall a story from the Bible, she would do it with comprehension and heart.
And, what if you grew up in a church or even outside the church, where the message you have memorized is that God is a big, mean God...He's out to get you...He's keeping track of all your "rights" and "wrongs" and is gonna get you if you aren't a good kid?!
If those are the messages going through your head and heart, and you and I had a chance to sit down, heart to heart over a cup of coffee or a margarita, I most certainly wouldn't use that time to try to drill the names of 66 chapters into your life.
I'd cherish that opportunity to tell you that I actually know the Author of those chapters. He's Amazing. Forgiving. Gracious. And Big enough to handle all the crap of the whole entire world...and He's totally in love with you, no if's, and's or but's...and no strings attached.
Just Love. Free and Pure.