When teaching men to pray, the first thing Jesus said was, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” The Greek word for hallowed is hosios. It means sacred, consecrated, treated properly, right, purely. God’s name–His reputation–is of the utmost importance.
God cares about His reputation for a very good reason:
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” - John 17:3
Knowing Him is eternal life. Knowing Him accurately is all that matters. God is good and generous and truthful and patient and kind. When we are exposed to God, as He truly is, that is the motivation to follow Him.
We can’t take teaching lightly. We cannot come into this with a lens that is not 100% Biblical. We cannot bring our tradition, our legalism, our parent issues–nothing but Him. When we do it wrong, kids grow up thinking the wrong things about God. Do you feel the weight of that?
Pastor Buddy Hoffman, recalls being taught as a young boy that on judgment day there would be a giant movie played of our whole life for all to see–even our mothers! Not only would the terrible things we had done be on display, but even the bad things we had merely thought about doing. With wide eyes he chuckled, “That scared me to death. I had quite an imagination!”
I’m sure that a well-meaning Sunday School teacher taught that narrative in an effort to coerce good behavior. But it does not portray God as He is! Certainly, God will judge sin that is not atoned for by the blood of His Son. But is God One who spends His days taking fastidious notes on our behavior in order to humiliate us, or did He send His Son to remove our sins as far as the east is from the west? Does He long to rub our faces in our failures or are His mercies new every morning? The Bible screams the latter (Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Peter 1:3-9; 1 John 1:9).
As teachers and small group leaders, we should be quick to ask God to take away any false perception we have of Him so we cannot pass it on to the next generation. We should dive into His word so we recognize the heart of God and convey it accurately to the young ones under our care so they will know Him–as He is–and have eternal life.