I was picking up leftover word search activity sheets when a new family walked into the classroom. I had just taught half a dozen 2nd and 3rd graders about the power of the tongue, from James 3. Another children’s ministry worker, Mary, came in with them and seemed deep in conversation. Unsure whether to make myself scarce or join in, I finished picking up and organizing markers and crayons. Just then, Mary turned and smiled, her face inviting me to join in.
The husband and wife were asking about the Sunday school lesson, so Mary let me take the lead. I shared that my lessons came from the church website, which provides expositional lessons through each book of the bible. This is modeled after Calvary Chapel’s teaching through each book of the bible.
In 2012 we learned about Paul’s missionary journeys in Acts, the Good News of Jesus Christ through Paul’s powerful epistle, Romans, the Biblical definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, as well as portions of the various letters Paul wrote to the churches in the New Testament. I explained that the lessons are Jesus-focused and teach how the Word guides our lives.
As I finished up I sensed deep-seated skepticism from the dad, and a few moments later we found out that this family visited our church a few years back. They had left after the dad encountered unbiblical teaching and he had a disagreement with a pastor. Shock hit me like an unexpected wave; Though I’m no bible scholar and the church staff are fallible humans like the congregation, I do know the Holy Spirit is at work throughout our church.
Most importantly, Jesus is worshipped and the Word is taught in truth and love.
Unbiblical? I waited, curiosity overflowing like a flooded river.
Though the father wasn’t aggressive or rude, he was set solid like a container of old cement about one particular issue. I know Mary also prayed for wisdom and was curious, too. When he finally shared what it was, surprise and bewilderment twisted together into a rope of disbelief.
I’m not a big fan of them, I don’t have any, and I’ll probably never get one, but I have Christian friends with tattoos. I settled my indignation on their behalf, schooling my features as best I could. He explained that he believed salvation was hindered because of a tattoo on a person’s body and he wondered how could God forgive what he expressly forbade.
Old Testament flashed through my mind like a neon sign, and I know Mary had the same thought. The dad believed a verse in the Old Testament about God forbidding tattoos adversely affected a person’s salvation.
Unfortunately, when we gently asked where he found the verse, he wasn’t sure, and both Mary and I needed to wrap up the conversation. We mentioned to him that Old Testament laws weren’t meant to direct our lives presently, but the stumbling block seemed unmovable at his feet.
Later I found the verse about tattoos. Leviticus 19:28 says, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you; I am the Lord.” I felt sadness for the dad and other people he would come into contact with and judge; the book of Leviticus was written as a guide-book for God’s redeemed people, the Israelites, over a thousand years before Jesus’ birth. It’s a set of rules the Israelites were to live by as they learned to worship and honor God.
GRACE! GRACE! GRACE!
“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” ~ John 1:17
Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law. Don’t stumble under rules and self-imposed laws that will weigh your soul down and negate the precious blood Jesus shed for our sin. It is finished! Through faith in Jesus Christ, our lives are tattooed with His amazing grace and peace with our Creator.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” ~ Romans 5:1 & 2