Have you ever noticed that kids movies frequently feature a villain whose beautiful face and kind words ultimately conceal a sinister plot? Even though kids entertainment would appear to be teaching children to discern someone’s true character based on their actions instead of their outward appearance, psychologists still encourage parents and guardians to protect kids against “stranger danger,” and when they get to middle school, frenemies.
When Gideon began kindergarten this fall, we had long talks that ran the gamut from who is allowed to pick up Gideon from school to what to say if a grown-up he didn’t know offered him candy. (Gideon’s first response was “thank you.” We’re a work in progress here, folks.) All this talk about whom to trust made me wonder if we have communicated enough to Gideon about the trustworthiness of the Bible.
In my own life, I was raised in a godly home and saved when I was young, but I was not fully prepared for my introduction into the “real” world. In college, I was taking classes in a “Christian” private university, but I seemed to be the only one in my class of 20 that believed the Scriptures were actually true and were given to us by a God who wanted to be known by His people. I was taking a survey of the Old Testament class, and I’ll admit that my world was rocked by my professor’s assertions that what I knew of as “God’s Word” was written over and over and over again by men who had their own agenda. My professor’s ideology was that the Bible was a collection of good things to know, but could we really be certain that it was true?
Many years and some dark times later, God led me back to the truth. Yes, the Bible was written by several men. In fact, the Bible was written by about 40 men across three continents over a period of two thousand years. But the beauty of the Scriptures is that from Genesis to Revelation, God is the One who not only told the writers to write but gave them the words to say through the Holy Spirit. That’s why despite the humanity of the authors, the message does not change. Despite what non-believers claim, God’s Word is flawlessly consistent. It never contradicts itself or the God it reveals. (For more information about how we got the Bible, check out this blogpost, but I encourage you to dig into the history of the Bible. You won’t be disappointed!)
To help the kids and preschoolers you teach understand the purpose and beauty of the Bible, reiterate these important foundations of Bible study:
- Context is important. God not only told the biblical authors the words He wanted them to say, but He told them at a specific time and to a specific people. You cannot separate from the message who the messenger was (the prophet or king) from the message’s intended audience. When you teach a Bible story to kids or preschoolers, do a little research to find out a little more about the person God chose to write the message, what was happening to God’s people historically at that time, and what they would have already understood about God from the word they’d already received from Him. A helpful tool in the Gospel Project for Kids is the Leader Bible study. Each week, we include a Leader Bible study at the beginning of each session to give leaders a brief of overview of this information so they can go into Bible teaching with the right context.
- The Bible is not a book of heroes to emulate. If anyone looks at the lives of the real people who lived and contributed to the stories in the Bible as if they are something to emulate, I’ve got some sad news for you. Those people were deeply, morally flawed. Only one Man—the God-Man, Jesus Christ—is truly good, and without the Holy Spirit living within us, it is impossible for us to try to “be like Christ” in our own power. Teaching the Bible in a way that encourages kids to “be brave like David/Esther” or “be obedient like Noah” puts the emphasis on our actions instead of Christ’s action on our behalf on the cross.
- The more you read, the more you grow. Have you ever met someone who truly believed the Bible was a book that you read once and then you’re good to go? I have, I’m sad to say. The beauty of the Bible is that it is a living document. I don’t mean that in the same manner that people believe the Constitution is a “living” (i.e. changing) document. I mean that because the Holy Spirit lives within every believer, the more we feast on the Bible, the more we get to taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8) In my own experiences, things that I didn’t fully understand as a baby Christian are so much more flavorful and succulent now. Has the Scripture itself changed? No, but my understanding of the God who sees me and speaks to me through His Word has grown deeper and richer. That’s also the difference between the love I feel for my husband now, almost seven years married, than I did our honeymoon year. Intimacy with our Savior grows deeper the more we spend time with Him.
What are some ways you help children understand the trustworthiness of the Bible? What are some ways you help parents understand the trustworthiness of the Bible as you equip them to lead the charge at home?
Rachel Myrick is the Content Editor for the Gospel Project for Preschool Babies and Toddlers Leader Guide. She has served in preschool ministry for babies and toddlers (her peeps) for over 16 years. Rachel and her husband, Shaun, live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with their almost-six-year-old son, Gideon, and their almost four-year-old dog, Samson.