It is important to me that my children know some of the key things I believe. Needless to say, they do not read my blog and their attention span for deep conversation is not very long. When my youngest two hit middle school, a certain window to their mind will be hard to open if it is not already open. So this last couple of years we've been oiling the hinges on that window.
One very key thing in my mind is the fact that even within Christianity, my children will be exposed to many forms of Christianity when I'm not looking. They might join a high school Bible study where the leader is Baptist beige or have Sunday School teachers or youth leaders who are fairly untrained Wesleyans. Even a pastor like Steve Deneff often says things that are different from what I think. Ultimately, they have to choose, but I would at least like them to know what I think. I would rather them intentionally and thoughtfully choose other options than merely to be driven and tossed by the winds, even the Christian winds of their environment.
Today I began with James 2:13: "Mercy trumps justice." Justice is when you receive a punishment equal to your wrongdoing. "An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth." If you intentionally break someone's arm, justice would be for them to break your arm back in exactly the same way.
My kind of Methodist and Wesleyan believes that God's character as love is more primary for him than God's character as just. We do not believe that God had to crucify Jesus because of some mindless rule about having to punish wrongdoing. God wants to forgive. That does not mean he does not punish. But God's punishment is meant to help us get on the right track, not to satisfy some underlying need for therapy that God has.
The cross is an astounding act of God's love, not only because Jesus took the punishment we deserved but because God could have forgiven us by divine fiat. But it was much more powerful for him to become us and suffer with us. It better satisfied the innate order of things and thus was more powerful to heal than a mere declaration.