Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Irresponsibility

In my last post, I suggested it was irresponsible to present the gospel to a child in the way it was presented to me. So how DO you share with a 6 year old?

My aunt & uncle became Christians right around the time I was born. When I was 5, they sent LPs of children's songs as gifts for my birthday & Christmas. This was my introduction to God & all things Christian. I remember looking at the illustrated booklets that came in the jacket (The art was so much better back then!)...




I learned about the 10 commandments & other Biblical principles, but I didn't really connect with the reality of God or my need to be saved. But then, is that really necessary at 5 years old? Jesus said "Let the little children come"... In another place, it says He "put His hands on them to pray for them". It doesn't say He told them to repent & be saved. It doesn't say He told them they did bad things & were going to hell. He didn't even tell them to follow Him. He simply placed His hands on them & prayed for them. And then He went on His way.

I've heard theories about guardian angels or automatic salvation prior to the "age of reason", but no one seems to be able to agree on anything solid. I'm under the impression that a child (in my case, a 6 year old) can't be expected to make a fully conscious, logical decision to commit their entire life to Christ after hearing a few sentences about God's love & the threat of hell.

I'm convinced I prayed out of fear- not necessarily b/c I was able to comprehend eternal punishment or even God's love. The idea that I was going to suffer if I didn't pray the prayer terrified me. Moreover, every time I did something bad, I feared hell & asked God to forgive me- not because I cared about our relationship, but I didn't want to end up a crispy critter. I don't think a child should have to concern themselves with this kind of fear however. It seems wrong to impose the truth in this way. And what's worse, I never really formed a relationship with God until many years later.

In hindsight, I can be thankful that I had a foundation- that God saw fit to reveal Himself to me by some means, so many years ago. But perhaps Jesus set an example for us when He said nothing more than "Let the little children come"... and He put His hands on them to pray for them.

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