Because We Eat the Bread

We just had communion Sunday at our church, and after church were on a family drive when Torre piped up in the back, “Daddy, you know that Jesus died for us?”

Matt told him yes, he knew that, and I turned around to ask Torre if he knew why Jesus died for us. Torre nodded solemnly. “Because we eat the bread.”2016-03-24 20.30.54

It was a classic adorable kid moment, and I’ve been turning it over in my┬ámind. I’m not in a panic because Torre doesn’t understand what death means yet, so he won’t comprehend the miracle of the resurrection, and he doesn’t need to grasp the burden of sin before he is able to also grasp its solution. But it reminded me how much I don’t want my kid to get messed up spiritually by growing up in church (nobody wants that, right?). I realize it’s an ongoing process and not something I can just teach once or put some safeguards and pat myself on the back, but parenting is one of the most challenging forms of discipleship I’ve experienced, and it forces me to evaluate my own perspective all the time. How can I teach my three year old truth that can grow up with him, not baby him or stifle him?

We were given a Jesus Storybook Bible when Torre was baptised, and we have just recently started reading it together. This Bible frames all its different stories in terms of God’s great rescue and points toward Jesus, and it incorporates a lot of interpretation to make sense of the stories themselves. In the story of the Fall, this Bible says that Adam andEve’s disobedience caused a terrible lie to come into the world that whispered in the hearts of everyone “God doesn’t love me.”The-Terrible-Lie-2-525x302

This is such a sturdier building block for me to talk about sin and forgiveness from than “disobeying God means we are bad, and Jesus had to die to make us good.” So in the car Sunday afternoon I said to Torre,

“Remember when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and that terrible lie came into the world that God doesn’t love us? Jesus died for us so that we will always know God loves us. Even when we do the wrong thing, God still loves us, and he wants to help us do the right thing. In church we eat that bread to help us remember about Jesus.”

It’s scary teaching kids about God! I don’t want to say anything Satan could ever use as a foothold to accuse or shame my son or any other little ones who I get to teach. I hope that these moments will be instructive for me as well – that as I think through the implications of my explanations I find shards of untruth to pick out like splinters from my own soul.

I’ve been reflecting on this portrayal of sin as the lie God doesn’t love us, and I see how much of the pain we see and feel and cause is rooted in a worldview where God doesn’t see or care for us. It is much easier to be loving and generous and forgiving and hopeful when our identity is drenched in God’s acceptance and love. It is easier to show grace when we view other’s sin as growing out of that lie that God doesn’t love them.

Of course sin is not just a lie we believe; it is an action or attitude with repercussions that ripple outward and corrupt and infect and destroy. The wages of sin are death, and Jesus’s death was not just a declaration of love for us, but also a ransom payment, the purchase of redemption so that we can live for him instead of dying.

I know I will not teach Torre perfectly about God – how could I? I can only teach him what I know, and that is far from perfect. But I do hope that through the words I say (about God and about others) and in the way I live that God will be gracious enough to plant a seed that can take deep roots in Torre’s heart, from which the rest of his faith can grow, and that seed will be “I am always, deeply, loved by God.”

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