When He Was Around Two Years Old…
…I decided to try to explain the meaning of Easter to my son. “So you see,” I concluded, “Jesus took all our discipline for us!” I was feeling quite proud of my pint-sized explanation when I realized I needed to add a follow-up comment: “Well… actually, you still have to get disciplined. Huh. Let’s try this again next year.” Obviously, my gospel presentation needed a little work!
So after much thinking and reading and listening to sermons, here are some ways I’m trying to give pint-sized Gospel explanations to my kids:
- Here’s one example of a simple gospel presentation: An ordinary, poor maiden is taken captive by a horrible, hideous dragon. A valiant knight fights the dragon and frees the girl by telling the dragon “Take Me Instead.” He kills the dragon and rescues the maiden, then takes her as his beloved bride and bestows all his riches and his love on her. Obviously, the dragon is Satan, the knight is Jesus, and we as the church are the beloved bride! St George and the Dragon is a great follow-up book to read, especially to little boys.
- Another way to present the Gospel to children is by talking about clean hearts and dirty hearts. We are born with dirty hearts that can’t be cleaned. Only by getting new hearts can we have clean hearts. Jesus is the only person to ever have a clean heart, and he died so that he can wrap his clean heart around our dirty hearts. Though we still sin and need to repent and ask God to forgive us, this doesn’t change what God sees in us: Jesus’ clean heart.
- My mom used to play a game with us when we were little, the “If you______(robbed a bank, broke my favorite vase, etc), would I still love you?” The answer of course was always, “yes!” I want to play this game with my kids too, to ensure them that nothing they can do will make me stop loving them. I will make an important addition, though: “If you ____, would God still love you?” The answer will always be a blessed, resounding “yes.”
- “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” (I Corinthians 1:20, NIV).
- Here’s another telling question I ask my kids every few months or so: “Does God love you more when you’re good or when you’re bad?” I am amazed at how many times they still say, “when I’m good” despite our best efforts to keep this heresy out of our home. We smile and remind them that God loves them because of Jesus and nothing they do can change that.
- Recently, I was trying to convey the message of the gospel to my 3-year-old. Her only comment being that she thought Jesus’ tomb pink inside made me question my methods! ☺ I finally told a story that seemed to sink in: You sin (she knows this). Mommy sins (unfortunately, she also knows this). We were going to have to die for our sin! It was terrible! But then JESUS came and said “Take me instead of Madelyn!” My daughter beamed as the nature of Jesus’ sacrifice began to make sense to her on some level.
There you have ‘em: a few ideas for presenting the Gospel at a pre-school level. We try to give them as much evidence as possible of our love and grace for our children while leading them to the Parent who loves us beyond measure.