Imagine that you are telling Aesop’s tale “The Tortoise & The Hare” to your son, and you ask him what he thinks about the story. You might expect him to say “Slow and steady wins the race.” But instead, he gave you some unexpected answers, like:
- Running is healthy!
- We should celebrate our friend’s victories.
- Don’t discriminate those who are smaller than you.
And you go “What!!?! That’s not what the story is about!” Instead of seeing the central point of the story, your son focused on secondary things that the story wasn’t meant to convey, or even sees the story talking about health issues or psychobabble. How could that happen?
The sad thing is, this might be how we read the Bible, and how we misuse the Bible and teach the wrong things to our children.
This is especially the case when we select material for our children, whether it’s children’s Bible or Sunday School material for children. There is a lot of material that are focused on using the Bible verses as grounds to foster good morals or character in children. They’re advertised as fun and games and “useful for life applications.” But I caution anyone before thinking about buying such material for children. Many people read the Bible and pick and choose what they want it to say, just like my illustration above regarding “The Tortoise & The Hare.” The Bible is not a bunch of verses strung together in a book. Rather, it has a “center” which is the gospel message. It also has a main character, which is God. And it flows as a progressive revelation of God revealing Himself to us starting from the beginning of time and then through Jesus and then toward the end times.
BTW, perhaps my use of Aesop’s Fable is not a very apt illustration. We shouldn’t see the Bible like it’s Aesop Fables with moral lessons and all. But the point I was trying to make is basically to not lose the clear focus communicated by the Bible.
So what should you use to teach your children? Sometimes just simply reading the Bible with your children is good enough. We sometimes forget the simplicity of just letting the Bible speak for itself. But I also want to offer my recommendations of other excellent children’s Bible and study material that actually gets what the Bible is about:
- The Big Picture Story Bible
- My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts
- The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments
Also, I highly recommend reading this excellent short article by Trevin Wax on 4 Things Every Kid Needs to Know about the Bible, who concludes by saying:
“The purpose of our Bible study is to know God and make Him known. The Bible unveils Jesus Christ as the focal point of human history. All creation exists by Him, through Him, to Him, and for Him. Our children’s curriculum should exist for Him too. That’s the only kind of Bible study that will change your life.”