Posted by: smstrouse | June 15, 2018

Rescued By Jesus?

shipwrecked-2018-easy-vbs-logoIt’s been a long time since I’ve had to shop for Vacation Bible School programs. So they’re not usually on my radar. But I this one caught my eye. Shipwrecked: Rescued By Jesus is a program from Group Publishing that I saw today on the website of one of the local churches in my denomination. 

I don’t have any argument with the “shipwrecked” theme. I also don’t have any argument with the blurb describing the program:
Venture onto an uncharted island where kids survive and thrive. Anchor kids in the truth that Jesus carries them through life’s storms.

But the second part of the title troubled me: “Rescued By Jesus.” Rescued from what? For41XsRk3cfHL._SL500_AA300_ what? I’m wary of a theological message that says that God/Jesus will save or protect us from all trouble and harm. That’s a dangerous message to give to kids (to anyone, for that matter) who will undoubtedly encounter situations from which no ‘rescuer’ from the sky is going to swoop down and make it all go away. One of the songs, “Rescue Me” (not the Fontella Bass version) has lyrics that say:

The waves are crashing all around
I need you God and I need you now. Rescue me.
I can feel the water rising. Rescue me, Jesus

Maybe it’s OK if we’re speaking only metaphorically. But I’m not sure kids would get the distinction. To be fair, there are other songs that are pretty good. The theme song, “Holding on to Your Promises,” says:

Through every storm of life
I know you’re by my side. 
So I am holding on
to your promises.

It’s one thing to know that God/Jesus is with us even when we’re in the midst of a storm. It’s quite another to expect that we’ll be rescued. That’s an expectation/idea of God that I believe needs to go. Because when bad things do happen, the obvious question becomes, “Why didn’t God help me?” Or “Why didn’t God heal me?” Or any number of ways we feel we have not been rescued. 

Marcus Borg was once asked at a workshop about resource material for kids. He replied that he didn’t have any specific recommendations, but he did give this advice: don’t teach kids what they’ll later have to unlearn. I think those are wise words to follow. 

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