This weekend is a time when families across the world gather together to celebrate Passover, Good Friday, and Easter. As a “gentile” Torah observant Christian (that’s a mouthful!), I have been learning how to observe the Passover according to the Bible and teach it to my children. I relate the story in Exodus to the truths of the gospel. I was not raised in any sort of Christian faith, so this has been a journey I’ve undertaken as an adult and mother.
One thing I have noticed, and have really been contemplating, is the tendency of adults in all Biblical traditions to gloss over biblical stories. I wrestled with how to teach the Passover story my kids, it isn’t an easy story. I wanted my children to feel involved and engaged in the Passover meal, but I was hesitant to use fun stories and props because truly it is a solemn Holy day.
There is joy in the knowledge of salvation, freedom from slavery/sin, and the glorious resurrection of Jesus/Yahushua; but first there are plagues. First there is the mighty hand of God, bringing fearsome punishment on the captors. Painful boils. Famine. Blood. And finally, death of all the firstborn of Eygpt without the blood of the lamb on their doorposts.
Before we can rejoice in forgiveness and resurrection, we must grieve over the death of Jesus. Betrayal. Punishment. Disfigurement. Mocking. Torture. Christianity is a religion that follows the Messiah who was nailed on a tree. He calls us to come, carry ours also.
I understand that children have different levels of readiness and maturity. I am not suggesting that we scare them. I am not saying there is no appropriate place for songs, crafts, and childrens bibles. But, please do not shield them from the truths of these stories.
My oldest child is 8, and she already asks me deep theological questions. She is a critical thinker, with a big heart. She wants to understand why God allows suffering. She wants to know why he put a tree in Eden. She wants to know what free will means. She wishes Jesus didn’t have to suffer and die.
I always acknowledge her questions, and thank her for asking me. I tell her when things are complicated. I give her answers whenever I can. I also know that each person must wrestle with faith and their own questions in a personal way. I don’t do her the disservice of pretending faith is always easy. I don’t make it neat and simple and devoid of doubt. To human is to question, to wonder, and then to come to a place of faith in Him who is greater than we are.
If all your child knows of Noah’s ark is cute childrens books, what will they say when they realize it was God’s punishment on the world? Every living creature died except what Noah saved. This is hardly a sweet bedtime story. It is a lesson for us to teach them- about faith, righteousness, consequences of sin, and second-chances.
So please, do not allow your children to question on their own. Do not surprise them with the difficult subjects. Instead, equip them. Prepare them. Speak honestly and lead faithfully.
And most of all pray, and seek out brothers and sisters, because we can’t do it alone.