Teaching Bible to children is a delightful experience for me. Throughout my careful, thoughtful lessons are numerous ah-ha! moments… I can only hope there are a few in the minds of my small charges, as well.
One day, as I was sharing the age-old history of the first man and the first woman with whom God dwelt, I arrived at the place in the report at which I was compelled to relate the extremely disappointing news that both Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, bringing about a tragic situation for humankind.
Of course, what followed was a series of excited interjections, a few in the form of questions: “No way! Couldn’ they ‘ave just had peanut butter and crackers if they were hungry?! Yeah… And there was prob’ly candy! An’ now we’re all in trouble… those idiots!” And with the slow, deliberate shake of a little head, “Anybody knows you can’t trust a snake.”
Now, while their observations were not completely without merit, their remarks did indicate restricted vision. Children tend to view The Word of God through a narrow lens, and for the most part, limit themselves to two colors- black and white. Though this is sometimes appropriate, and often provides the needed dramatic emphasis; it is at other times limiting, and the need for a more expansive view is obvious. Adam had turned to worshiping the creation rather than The Creator, a grave sin indeed, and Eve exchanged the Truth of God for a lie; sins in which we all would have readily participated, had we been in their place. Their actual eating of the fruit was an outward display of the garbage that had taken residence in the heart.
As adults, we should be equipped and able to switch to a broad scope and to embrace a full spectrum of light, permitting our perspective to be imbibed with every possible hue; in so doing we may find the liberation of our souls!
Certainly, there are various hindrances to a person’s being able to think like a man: Natural and appropriate immaturity as in a child, general immaturity, or specific immaturity such as emotional, social, intellectual or spiritual immaturity. There is retardation and there are developmental delays which affect the capabilities of some, and of course there is the weak will. These are real obstacles which cause some of us to genuinely exist in a fledgling state, or less able to think or to behave as an adult, despite our historical age. But for most of us, a simple willingness to take the initiative in the sanctification process will prove to bring about the gracious help and kind generosity of Our Heavenly Father, and He will mold and grow the soul longing to be fully freed by The Truth of Scripture. Though we will remain imperfect while we are attached to these bodies, we will be free in the sense that we are comprehending Scripture and are able to apply it appropriately in our lives.
Furthermore, this is to be a beautiful benefit to those who are less mature, in that according to Scripture, the more mature are entrusted with the supervision and careful consideration of the others. God has truly designed and is orchestrating by His Spirit a perfect system, by which the needs of His children may be perfectly met in this fallen place: The Church. When we are functioning optimally– keeping first things first, keeping our eyes on Jesus Christ and by His grace obeying Our Father- we are the best thing that ever happened to this earth, for we are in one sense, Christ on Earth!
And yet we display a tendency to divide and to argue one with another, sometimes to the exclusion of serving a broken world as we should. For example: We deliberate over the literal versus the metaphorical in Scripture which is in some instances necessary, but it is apparent to me that Our Great God, to whom and with whom all things are possible, could easily have dictated a perfect document in which many or all things are both. For instance: Proverbs 31 speaks of a godly woman as one who keeps the oil in her lamp burning throughout the night; she is not idle. I believe that this is literally true throughout many seasons in her life as she is never one to neglect her duties, as well as metaphorically true, in the sense that the oil is representative of The Holy Spirit who is ever present in, and never extinguished from her life. (Please note that I am not saying that there may be a metaphorical meaning for something that is historically understood and consistently presented as literal, instead of the literal, only that there may be a metaphorical meaning in addition to the literal.)
I have found a world of beautiful possibilities by studying The Word with these things in mind; however I am by His grace, ever aware of The Absolute Truth, and of the consistency with which God’s Word will reveal Itself , in other words, the unwillingness of God to contradict Himself, and His unwillingness to confound and exasperate His children.
Therefore, the more I study, the more grateful I become to Him who has rendered the plight of the idiot, glorious!
©L.L. Shelton, 9/27/2011