Saturday, March 26, 2011
Cap'n Crunch, Rob Bell and Hell
Now, for those of you too busy (like myself and pretty much every other woman on the planet) to get caught up in the latest deep, theological debate, there is great fuss and controversy over a new book by a pastor in Michigan named Rob Bell. As I have laundry, no lesson plans for Monday, am short on toddler workers in the church nursery tomorrow morning and boys to pack back off to college...and that's just some of my "stuff" today...I'm not really feeling the need to get involved in the fray.
However, the book - one including some thoughts Bell has on Hell - has birthed some "on the side" questions regarding how to talk to kids about the afterlife. So, though I am a person who believes the Bible means what it says and says what it means and also one who grows stronger each day in her own convictions, in true cavewoman style, I will keep this real-life friendly and practical. Again, I am not reviewing the content of the Bell book. Like Hell, I don't want to go there. I just want to encourage parents when it comes to having conversations with children. Nothing more, nothing less.
Kids and questions regarding the afterlife. Discussion topic that ranks up there with "Where do babies come from?" and "Why did God let my goldfish die?"...and "Why are you and daddy always wrestling in your room?"
I can't tell you I've hit a home run with my answers on the latter three, but when the whole matter of Hell came up when my boys were little I didn't have too go far for some great stuff to share. You see, I knew exactly how they felt because I grew up in church and had once been a child myself.
If you were blessed enough to be a child in church during the 70's, chances are you got to view a movie series about Jesus coming back to earth for people who knew and loved him...and the horrors those left behind would surely experience. Now, I must say - and I'm not looking for a big, debate here, unless it's about who is going to win the Final Four (KU) - that I believe all of the Bible. It's the real deal. And though I speak figuratively a lot myself, I think God's Word is pretty literal. Sure, there are parables, but the truth is there for us to draw from, and I for one will not be tampering with it just so that I can shirk responsibility or live any old way I want. Okay, that's been stated, so let's go back to the kid discussion and leave theology to those guys with more time and degrees than us simple - but awesome - cavepeople.
When I was young, the movies I mentioned came to my church. After viewing, I locked myself in a bathroom at home and wouldn't come out. My mom, the wisest cavewoman ever, let me cry for a bit and then - through the bathroom door - asked me a question, "KyAnne, do you love Jesus?" I whimpered, "Yesssss..." She then questioned, "Have you asked Him in your heart and purpose to live for Him each day? Loving people the way He would have you to?" I again answered, "Yes..." She went on, "Well, then you have nothing to be afraid of." Tears dried up, I wiped my nose, I unlocked the bathroom door and happily went about my childhood. I'm sure there are those who would say, "This is too simple of an answer. There's much more to this!" Well, duh! But, most children are not enrolled in seminary and pondering the deepest, spiritual things. Most of them are rather pondering questions like whether or not the gum they just swallowed will stay in their stomach for the next seven years.
I may not claim theological greatness, but I have probably had more discussions with children than most out there. We don't want our kids to be uneducated or unwise when it comes to what they believe, but if your kid is four and worried about leaving their house and Wonder Pets to go to Heaven, you have to pray for sweet and simple answers. As they grow, their understanding will, too, and we need to give them opportunities to learn. We are their trainers and teachers for only so long, and there comes a point where they hit that "age of accountability" and we have to acknowledge that they aren't given to us to be our little robots, but like us...they have a free will.
When my kiddos were grade school and junior high kiddos, we rang out the praises of Heaven and had a quiet understanding that none of us wanted anything to do with Hell (whether believed to be temporary or not) EVER. Really it was only mentioned when we sang on the way to school each morning. One of our favorite bands had a song called, "Breakfast," which was fun and uptempo...but, actually packed a punch. Maybe we misinterpreted it (which wouldn't be a crime as it wasn't necessarily Scripture), but to our little gang it was a challenge to be fueled up on God's Word, an encouragement to be a witness of Christ's love and to always remember, as the song says...
"When the toast is burned.
And all the milk has turned
And Cap'n Crunch is wavin' farewell.
When the big one finds you
May this song remind you
That they don't serve breakfast in Hell!"
No breakfast? What kid would want to go there? Why would any of us? So, the afterlife. Heaven and Hell. Keep it simple for your kids. Heaven...cool. Hell? Um, just don't go there.