How To Give Christ To A Young Heart
THE DIFFERENCE OF SUPERHEROES AND THE TRUE HERO - JESUS
BY RICA PERALEJO
Approaching Easter, I was at a loss at how to teach my child about the facts of holy week. He is three and could understand stories, but what Christ did on the cross is a pretty complex act that. Let’s face it, even adults actually have a hard time understanding what really happened there. So I kept praying for a way to tell this story, or at least a part of it, effectively to my child.
Practically speaking, I had an old chubby board Easter book that I read to him few days before leaving for a trip, in the hopes of sowing important Biblical concepts in his soul. His Nana also gave him a children’s Easter storybook, where “He is risen” is repeated effectively. I think it’s quite helpful and engaging, however I still found it supplementary. What I wanted was to unlock a way of telling at least one crucial concept around Christ’s being to my child that would make a deep dent in his young heart.
And so it happened. Though you might find it funny that it came in quite an irreligious manner, as God coursed his story through Batman. Yes, Philip came to know the reality of Christ through Batman.
We were in the bed then, reading books together, chatting and chatting, when I sensed I should bring up the topic of Easter. Simply, I told him that Jesus is alive and that’s why we are happy on Easter. And that he is real. My boy, being compliant and obedient, repeated, “Jesus is alive…he is real.” But I knew he had no deeper grasp of what I was saying. That they were just a bunch of words that his believing parents would string together. Then, I had a thought.
Me: Philip! Jesus is alive! He is real!
Me: Do you like Batman?
Me: Is he strong? And powerful?
Me: Well, I like Batman also because he is so cool but he isn’t real. But Jesus is real! He is the real strong and powerful one because Batman is not real but Jesus is real!
I was actually surprised at how I concocted that whole Easter introduction, (I was expecting it to be more of a religious event, holy and sacred kind, I guess?) but even more surprising was how my son took it. Because a little later in our trip he tells me:
Philip: Jesus is real, Mama. Batman is not real. Because he cannot give me air force one. But Jesus can give me air force one.
To give you a background, the past few months we have been teaching him to ask and thank Jesus for everything he wants and needs. For toys, food, a baby in mama’s tummy, even kindness and patience and obedience, whenever we find him disobedient and bratty.
The truth is, much as he loves Batman and Superman and for all the strength and coolness they display on screen, Philip perhaps realized that he cannot pray to them about the most important things. Much as he loves and deems Batman as the coolest hero on earth, he probably understood in that moment that this fictional character can only go as far as giving him entertainment. But with Jesus, in Philip’s daily struggles, he finds that this True Hero is there to always give a way, the truth, and life.
If I were to advise mommies about how to each your child about Christ, I’d say that from my experience, you may try these three things:
SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH THEM AND BE SENSITIVE TO THEIR READINESS
I would have never been able to tell my son these things and discerned the perfect moment, had I not plopped down that bed and spent undisturbed, undistracted time, with him. Teaching moments abound with children, but we cannot plan them around our convenience. We need to pay attention and be intentional about our moments, if want to catch their readiness.
USE THEIR INTEREST
It is a known method that when a child hates math, pick a toy he loves, make him count it, and he will. In Philip’s case, Batman came in handy. If you think your child loves his superheroes more than Jesus, use those toys to unearth similarities and critical differences between them and Christ. Pray for creative ways and God will surely give you a strategy to tell His story to your child. Take comfort in knowing that the Bible says that all that can be known about God is made plain and shown to us, “…since the creation of the world and in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:19-20).
SOW ALL THE TIME
I know it seems like our story happened in a moment, but it didn’t. Long before this one came, we’ve already been sowing seeds of truth in Philip’s heart. In daily and practical ways, we teach the boy to lean on Jesus, even when he didn’t seem to quite get it yet. We pray, we give verses, we read Bible stories, we watch Superbook, we tell him to ask Jesus for things he cannot have on his own like airplanes and kindness, and to thank Him for all that makes him happy. And I found that all of those were actually building to this moment. There really is sense in the old Deuteronomy command,
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, … You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).
Long before all these teaching methods came about, the Bible has already proposed: let’s make learning about God deeply integrated in our daily lives; let it be more natural and organic.
Let’s make learning about God deeply integrated in our daily lives; let it be more natural and organic.
My son is only three. We have a long way to go. If you have older kids, maybe you can share tips with me, as well. I could use much from your experiences, too! ?