One summer when my oldest was three, we had a Vacation Bible School curriculum that had a Japanese theme. The story for the day was about Mary and Martha, where Martha chooses to sit at Jesus' feet instead of helping Martha with the chores. My oldest came home from church and told me they had learned about these women who lived in Japan who had met Jesus. Clearly, she was a bit confused.
This story came to mind again as I was talking to our church's preschool director on Sunday. She was telling me about some preschool curriculum she had seen on a recent trip. The DVD-based curriculum included a fictional talking donkey telling the children that the Bible is true. Now, there's nothing wrong with using stories to illustrate a point, but younger children have a hard time telling truth from fiction already. It simply confuses them to have something like a talking donkey, which most preschoolers know isn't real, explaining an important truth to young children.
Too often, we treat the Bible like a storybook -- no different from the other picture books that we read our young children. Then, we wonder why they don't accept the Bible as true. From the time kids are very young, we need to treat the Bible as a book that is true. When we teach our children about the men and women in the Bible, we need to make it a point to remind them that these aren't just stories. They are accountings of things that really happened. The people in the Bible were as real as other historical figures.
The Bible, itself, tells us that God's words are true. Psalm 119:160 says "All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal." The Bible is not a story. It is a book filled with truth that applies to our lives today. It's words offer wisdom, love, comfort and joy. We need to teach our children that they can rely on the truth of God's word.
- Choose your child's Bible wisely. Picture Bibles are good choices for preschoolers. My favorites are the ones that use scripture within the text. Look for a picture Bible that offers some application to your children's lives -- either through questions or additional activities. For older children, choose a Bible in a translation that is easily digested at a child's reading level. My favorite is the New International Reader's Version. Choose a Bible that includes a daily devotional aimed at your child's age level or one that includes some life application notes.
- Don't lump the Bible in with other books. Make sure your children know that the Bible is God's word. While men wrote the book, God told them what to write. With young children, every time you read the Bible with them, remind them that the Bible is true. Encourage older children to seek answers in the Bible when they are trying to make a decision or they are worried or scared. This teaches them that the Bible is a reliable source of wisdom.
- There are some places in the Bible, where the accounts seem fantastic -- there's a parting sea, the sun stopping in the sky, people being sick one minute and well the next. It may seem like just another piece of fiction to your children. When you read about one of these miracles, stop and talk with your children about how God can do anything and that everything in the Bible is true.
Much of faith is based on accepting that what God says in the Bible is true. If we start teaching our children that the Bible is true at an early age, they will recognize that the Bible is different from other books. When we hold it up as a true source of wisdom, we help our children understand that the Bible is God's word and offers us wisdom.
But, if your kids never see you reaching to the Bible as a source of wisdom, all of your teaching will be for nought. We have to act out what we're teaching. We must make sure that we are offering a children an example of trusting in the truth of the Bible as well as teach them that it is true. We must live as if the Bible is true -- because it is.