Vacation Bible School…when I type these words I am sure a multitude of things enter into your brain. Whether it is flashbacks to watered down kool-aid and elbow macaroni crafts or more recent days where you find yourselves rushing to get the kids dressed into semi-appropriate, yet stain and water resistant clothes; these words usually mean something to us. Vacation Bible School for some of us may have even been the place where we first heard or really began to understand about what it means for Jesus to love us and for us to be able to follow after Him. Between crafts, games, stories, songs, offering contests (Side note: do you guys remember where it used to be a weight contest? And a roll of pennies used to be magical? Just me? Oh, ok) and the like, we somehow experienced something amazingly different that week. And I think I am just now beginning to put my finger on the pulse of what it might be.
You see in the gospels there is this story about Jesus (go figure) and some children. The writers speak about people bringing their young children to Jesus for Him to bless them and the disciples start to rebuke the parents. But Jesus response is simple and yet amazing, “He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:14-15 That phrase, “do not hinder” is probably what stands out the most to me. Jesus wants the disciples to drop all of their preconceived notions, agendas, issues, etc. and just let the kids see Him and subsequently Him the children. He goes on to say that God’s Kingdom, His Kingdom, could only be received like a child.
So let’s contextualize this a bit. During Vacation Bible School adults, teens, and all make-up of volunteers drop everything for a week. For a week they revel in Bible stories, kiddie songs, crafts (and I for one am not a crafty person), games, motions, laughing, singing, dancing, etc. And all of this is done why? To show Jesus to kids…or rather to bring kids to Jesus. And the part that always blows me away is that the kids do see Jesus. They know that behind all of the programming is the heart of God being lived out in these volunteers and they receive the love, attention, compassion, and care graciously because that is how the Kingdom of God is received. It really is magical, some might even say Divine.
Now think with me…what if VBS wasn’t just a week, but a platform, a paradigm for the way in which we conduct ourselves with the world around us? We drop our ideas, preconceived notions, agendas, programs, booklets, classes, etc. and we just showed people the way to Jesus. Maybe that is an oversimplification or maybe that is really what Jesus means when he says, “do not hinder”. I for one never want to be in the camp of people where my agendas, schedules, etc. get in the way of someone encountering Jesus and realizing how much He loves them. I just want to keep showing people the way to Him; I hope you do too.