While being put to bed by my wife, my daughter who was four at the time, began her regular nightly practice of asking theological questions. My son did this when he was that age, because he learned that it was a good way to milk extra minutes before having to go to sleep. Our daughter seemed to do this out of genuine interest, but given the depravity of man, who knows.
“Mom, why did Jesus die in Texas.”
“Baby, he didn’t die in Texas. Why would you think that?”
“Because when you prayed you said he died in our place. Isn’t Texas our place?”
It made me think of a story that my mother used to tell. She had been to a Vacation Bible School clinic and one of the seminar leaders had told them that they needed to be very careful with the language they used with children. According to this worker, when you sing that Zachaeus was a wee little man and hold your hands about 10 inches apart, children think that Zachaeus was about 10 inches tall. “Phaw.” My mother wasn’t going to believe that nonsense, and told the worker that.
One week later, we were at a Wednesday night prayer meeting and I was coloring in a coloring book.
“Mom, what color is the devil.”
“Kevin, there is no devil in your coloring book.”
“Yes there is.”
“Here, let me see that . . . . . Kevin, that isn’t the devil, that is a fox.”
And I began to sing to her, “The devil is a sly old fox, if I could catch him, I’d put him in a box.”
If kids will believe that Jesus died in Texas because they misunderstand a sentence from a prayer, and if they will believe that Zacchaeus was ten inches tall or that the devil is a fox based upon children’s songs, then what do your kids believe about God, man, and the world based upon what is on the television programs you watch, the music to which you listen, and the conversations they overhear in your house?