We want our kids to get to know Jesus, who He is and what He has done for us. We know discipleship in the home is key to kids developing a vibrant spiritual life. But sometimes, that knowledge comes with a lot of pressure. We don’t feel confident in our ability to point our kids to Jesus. After all, we’re talking with our kids about forever!
Been there. Done that. And here’s a statement that changed my life: my child’s eternal salvation is not up to me. That is the work of the Holy Spirit…working through me, and working in her. My role is to point my child to Jesus, to model what it means to be a Christ-follower.
Sometimes, that looks like a conversation about heavenly purple pig bodies.
“Do I Have to Die on the Cross?”
One night, my then four-year-old daughter and I were talking about death, heaven and what happens to our bodies when we die, as one does when it’s close to Easter. Pretty heavy stuff for a preschooler, right?
We discussed how much Jesus loves us, and how He died on the cross and rose again. We talked about Jesus’ friends getting to live with Him in heaven one day.
That’s when my daughter asked, “Will I have to go on the cross?” She was concerned that to get to heaven, she’d have to die the same way Jesus did. As I assured her that crucifixion wasn’t a likely option, my mind spun with the theological implications and how to explain it to a young child.
“I Like My Bones!”
But she was already on to the next thing, saying something about having a new body. Yes, I told her, Jesus says in heaven we’ll get new bodies, so much better than our old ones.
“But I like my bones!” she exclaimed. Yes, I like your bones too, I told her, and most likely you’ll get to keep them for a very long time. Remember the hermit crab, I said, how it lives in a shell, but when it gets too big, it leaves the shell behind to find a new home. That’s kind of like us. One day our real selves will go to live with Jesus, but our shells, our old bodies, will stay behind.
The conversation turned, as it does, to what happens to the “shells.” And so I explained about graves and coffins and tombstones.
“Will Piggie come, too?” my daughter wondered, worried at the thought of missing her favourite stuffie. Well, no, I said, Piggie is a toy, and just people go to heaven. And we’ll be having so much fun, she won’t have time to miss Piggie.
She brightened. “Yeah, the big house. And the play structure!” We’d had this conversation before, about the mansions Jesus is building and how there is likely the biggest play structure ever. (I hope Jesus doesn’t mind the literary license when explaining the wonders of heaven to a preschooler.)
Will Daddy and I be there?, my daughter asked, worried once more. She wanted to stay with us. Yes, I told her, one day we’ll all be in heaven together.
Question 561: What kind of body would she have? “I want a purple pig body!” she exclaimed. “You can have a striped tiger body!” Heaven will be an interesting place, I replied.
Several minutes later, her questions satisfied, we prayed together, thanking Jesus for our bodies, and that we’d get great new ones in heaven. She drifted off to sleep singing along to “Jesus Loves Me” on her CD player.
What a kid. What a conversation. What a privilege. I could picture Jesus smiling up there on that heavenly play structure. And I felt just a little more confident that I could, in fact, share the good news of Jesus with my kids after all, one conversation at a time.
ALSO ON THE HOPE BLOG:
WATCH: The Tomb is…Empty!
So why DID God roll the stone away from Jesus’ tomb? After all, can’t the newly resurrected Jesus walk through walls?
In this Hope Blog video, Bill digs into the question to find a great reminder, for kids and adults alike, about the amazing truth of Easter!
Here is a simple outline for sharing the Gospel basics with a young child:
- In the beginning God made a perfect world, a beautiful garden where the first people lived.
- Then the first people made a choice that was against God’s rules. They sinned.
Young children can understand sin. Try this: Sins are those things that we say, think, or do that break God’s heart and make Him sad. We all sin. We all make choices that are not the way Jesus wants us to live. And we deserve the consequences.
- God is very special, holy. He cannot be in the same place as sin. The people had to leave the garden. They could not be with God.
- But God loved His people very much. He wanted to make a way for them to be with Him. He had a rescue plan!
- God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth. Jesus was perfect. He never did anything wrong. He never sinned.
- Jesus taught us what it means to love others and love God!
- Some people didn’t love Jesus. They hurt him. Jesus died on a cross and was buried. It was so sad.
- Three days later, the most amazing thing ever happened! Jesus’ friends discovered the spot they buried Jesus was empty! Jesus wasn’t dead anymore. He was alive again!
- Something very special happened when Jesus died and came alive again. It was God’s rescue plan!
- When He died on the cross, Jesus took all of the sins – including ours – with Him. He took them farther away than you can even imagine and got rid of them. Sin was gone!
- When tell Jesus we want to follow Him, and ask Him to forgive us for the wrong things we do, He does! He takes our sin away – forever. When our sin is gone, we can be friends with God again.
- One day, we will get to be with Jesus forever in heaven! Until then, we get to love others and tell them about His good news.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Rempel is the Director of Creative Communications for One Hope Canada, and serves as Preschool Team Leader at Eastview Community Church in Winnipeg, MB.