When Real Life Sneaks Into Sunday School


I’m a licensed and experienced teacher, mom of four, former homeschooler, and have taught Sunday school too many times to count.

And I’m actually nervous about this week’s elementary lesson.

The scheduled text is on Peter and the Beggar. It’s the story where Peter and John approach the temple to pray and meet a beggar at the gate. They heal him in the name of Jesus, and send him off  “walking and leaping and praising God.”

I’ve taught this group several times. I’ve even presented this story before. But like all teachers , I’m anticipating my students’ questions, and this is where the nerves are kicking in…

I’m imagining a few raised hands this week…My mom said we shouldn’t give money to beggars, is it because we are supposed to heal them, instead?”

“Dr. Martin Luther King was a Christian, right? Did he ever heal anyone? Have you?”

“So, was this in one of those countries Donald Trump was talking about?”  They’re gonna smirk and giggle and whisper “shithole” in each other’s ears. Lord, have mercy…

When you teach kids who are old enough to bring current events and real life into your lessons about Jesus, it’s a bit scary.

Maybe because I’m not that great at bringing Jesus into current events and my real life.

Lord, have mercy… 

But I’m determined to make this next generation better than mine.

So, I read the passage again and pray for wisdom.


“Peter and John went to pray…”

My eyes focus on Peter – The one who walked on water and cut off the soldier’s ear. The one who sat at Jesus’ right hand and denied him three times. Peter – the impulsive and imperfect saint.

There. There’s the relevant connection. Finally, the student becomes teacher again.

Throughout Biblical history, God has built His Kingdom with human hands. The human-est of ones, actually.

That’s the main point. I’ll start with the humanity of Peter – and move into what God can do with folks like him.

It will set the stage for the Q&A time to come later…

I can’t judge who deserves a hand-out or who doesn’t.  The Spirit might prompt us to give physical help, spiritual aid, or both in different situations. Just trust that the Spirit will lead your mom, others, and you – however He chooses.

I’ve never heard about Dr. King healing anyone, but there are always stories in history that we don’t know. If God allowed it, I’m sure he could have. Or you could, too.

Donald Trump’s words, as hard as they are to hear, force me to revisit what God says about all humans. He says we all bear His image, and we all fall short. He has called us to be the hands and feet of Jesus for all nations.

All have the potential for amazing good and for terrible evil.

Even Peter and the beggar. Even our parents and Dr. Martin Luther King.

Even Donald Trump? Yes, boys and girls. Even him.

Even scared teachers like me.

Ultimately, this week’s class will be about what God can do with weak folks on an ordinary day. And I’m raising my hand to be the object lesson.

It’s the most important teaching for this next generation, and for us:

To refuse to simplify any human being to a single word. Good. Bad. Or worse. 

To reach for the power of God to change us all. 

To receive a real Jesus for real life.

For real. For life.

“We may have all come in on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” – Dr. Martin Luther King

Newspaper photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash /  Bible photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “When Real Life Sneaks Into Sunday School

  1. lindafarley3 January 17, 2018 / 12:13 am

    Great post, Karen! We are never too old to learn, even as parents and teachers! Thanks for being a faithful teacher and leader in our church.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gretchen Fleming January 31, 2018 / 10:21 am

    Great points here👍 So good to struggle with the text and let God do His work in us as the teachers before we ever get to our students. Lol


  3. Anita Ojeda March 25, 2018 / 1:30 pm

    How did it go? It’s so difficult to teach the disenfranchised, the beggars of America, so to speak–especially government and economics classes…especially now. I’m with you in daily praying for wisdom!


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