It was Sunday lunch time in 1997. I sat around with the volunteer teachers, talking about how our Sunday school classes went. A 4-year old boy ran up to his mom, who was sitting with us… He was a super cute boy with a froggy-voice. I asked him if he had swallowed a frog. He said, “no… but I swallowed Jesus.” Eh???? His mom went on to explain that her son kept saying that He swallowed Jesus, and that’s how Jesus got into his heart. We all laughed because it was so cute!
Fast forward to 2011. I visited my friend’s church few weeks ago. The parents of preschoolers were conversing about their children’s versions of how Jesus got inside their hearts. They were cute stories… they varied from how a little girl felt that there was no room for Jesus inside her when she saw the body chart at her doctor’s office to how a little boy was scared to throw up Jesus when he got sick. We all laughed at how kids viewed “Jesus in my heart.” Yes, they take all this very literally, and we think it’s cute.
I’ve actually been thinking about this for few weeks now… and I have a very unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach. Whether it was in 1997 or it was two weeks ago, I feel like we have failed to give these kids correct information. We use “Christianese” so much in the church that we assume everyone understands these expressions… of course when you say “do you have Jesus in your heart” to an adult, they wouldn’t assume that you’d have to swallow Jesus or that Jesus physically resides inside their body cavity. But when you say this expression to a child, a preschool kid… their curiosity has them thinking wild thoughts! Well, they’re wild to us adults… but it has to somehow make sense that Jesus can get inside their little bodies…
I believe our responsibility as kidmin leaders (and also for parents) isn’t to teach the truths through Christianese, but to help kids understand what it means to love, trust, and follow Jesus. Often times, we’re so concerned with helping kids “accept Christ into their hearts” that we forget that it’s a process for them as well… We want “on this day, so and so has accepted Jesus” moment after a child says “yes.” But honestly, a lot of kids will raise their hands during an altar call or when you ask “so who wants to accept Jesus into their hearts?” Okay, so now I feel like I’m just ranting and I’m being incoherent at 2 am, but it’s just been on my mind with this very unsettling feeling… so I just had to get it out somehow (isn’t that why I have a blog?)
Yes, it’s cute and funny… but I believe we’re doing these kids disservice when we just laugh it off… but we should really help them understand what it means to have God who loves us so much that He wants to be friends with us forever… and that although we have done a lot of bad things (and we will continue to do them even as adults), God had Jesus take the punishment for our mistakes because He loves us soooooo much… so we can love Jesus, obey Jesus (often with help of the adults in our lives), learn to trust Jesus, and also have forever friendship with Jesus. Okay, it’s late… that’s my rant for today!