I was walking through the Children’s Center the other day, tidying from Wednesday night and getting set up for Sunday morning activities. As I was cleaning up some papers, I noticed this on the top of the classroom’s whiteboard.
This classroom was used by my in-laws on Sunday, as they teach our preteen class during Life Group hour, and my father-in-law, Cayce, with his stand-out always caps writing, was the one who wrote this down.
I am hugely appreciative for those that God has placed in my life for me to learn from. The majority of my learning has come from experience and learning from those around me. Cayce is hands-down one of the best Bible teachers for kids I have ever known. The ability he has to communicate with kids and help them apply the Bible to their context is phenomenal, and I wish I had been there to see him have this discussion with them. Sometimes I get the chance to walk by and listen in (see my pinned tweet below) as he teaches and it always draws me in. I feel like my spiritual gifting is in administration, and so I am hugely grateful for someone clearly so gifted in teaching to do ministry alongside.
I wanted to write a post about these questions, because I felt like it could be a useful tool to have gospel conversations with your kids.
What’s the big deal?
What’s wrong with being selfish? What’s wrong with getting your own back? What’s wrong with treating other people how they treat you?
Even as adults, we can wrestle with the injustices that we see, and desire to be the administrator of justice, rather than trust the God who truly is just. Kids want to take things into their own hands too. To sin is to think, say, or behave in any way that goes against God and His commands (see Big Picture Questions and Answers #20). Sometimes when we disobey God we can see the earthly consequences, and sometimes we might not (or choose not to) see them.
Here’s the deal – whatever our motive, sin always carries consequences, the biggest of which is our separation from God:
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23
Sin brought death, an end to a relationship between Creator God and created man. God is holy, and just, and must punish sin (Again, see Big Picture Questions and Answers). So our sin leaves us separated from our true Father, and awaiting a punishment from Him. That’s the big deal.
What must I admit?
I couldn’t count how many times when talking with kids I have talked about how easy we find it to point to the sins of others, totally ignoring the sins of our own heart (Matthew 7:1-6). Kids find it easier to talk about the sin of their siblings rather than their own sin. I get that, because I am still that way too.
One of the core parts of the conversation I am having with a child as they are desiring to call Jesus Lord, is to see what they can tell me about their own sin. Can they tell me what the consequences of it is, earthly and eternally? Can they tell me specific sins they struggle with? Can they show remorse and conviction as they tell me how it makes them feel? Kids being specific in this areas is a huge indication of spiritual maturity, and a factor of readiness to walk into relationship with Jesus if they haven’t already.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.Romans 3:23
Kids need to admit to their own personal sins, and to know what they are and feel the weight of that. That’s what they must admit.
What can I do now?
How wonderful it is that our story does not end with us feeling the weight of sin, hopeless and unable to make things right on our own. The first verse I shared contains a promise of life through Jesus, God’s Son, whose arrival on this Earth was planned before the Earth had even begun to take shape.
Jesus lived a sinless life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead (#39). His life without sin enabled Him to be the perfect sin offering, the only solution to our sin problem, and He offered up Himself, taking on our punishment, before rising again and showing that truly He was the Son of God. This is the Good News – an invitation extended to us, unworthy as we are.
Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out,Acts 3:19
Repent isn’t a word that our kids hear often outside of church, and so usually I physically act out like I am walking in sin, with a heart for myself, before doing a 180 degree turn and walking towards God. Not a 179 degree turn, but 180 degrees – my back turned to the old way of life, and I am fully facing God. We have to place all of our trust in Him. That’s what they can do now.
What is the result?
The end product of our obedience in this process of admitting, is a promise from a faithful King.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
We become clean, not through our own work, but His. That’s the result.
One final part of that conversation is that being cleansed from unrighteousness and seen as righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21) does not mean that we will never sin. Again, this is a conversation that I have had many times with kids. Your salvation is need tied to your performance, and sinning after becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you didn’t get saved. I am, as my colleague and fellow Pastor calls it, a professional Christian (i.e. paid to work for the church) and I still sin. Often. This process of admitting is an ongoing one, that initially opens us up to the most incredible repaired relationship with our Creator, and that through continual repentance keeps us focused on Him.
– Jared Simpson