Tuesday, December 13, 2011

reading the whole Bible to our children (3) guest post

What attitudes should we bring to the difficult parts of the Bible when we read them with our kids? Fiona answers that question today. You'll find the first part of this series here and the second part here.

So how do we deal with the particularly “difficult” books or passages in practice?

Firstly, don’t be afraid of them. Bear in mind that just because we (adults) find a passage difficult doesn’t mean that our children will find it difficult. They may be untroubled by the ethical issues that crowd our consciousness and the assumptions and prejudices that colour our understanding.

Don’t be afraid of letting your children know that you find some parts of the Bible difficult. God is so much bigger than we are that we should not be surprised when we sometimes find him hard to understand. Encourage our children to ask questions that we may not be able to answer straight away. Being a Christian doesn’t mean knowing all the answers, but it means clinging fast to the answers we do know.

Secondly, don’t be ashamed of the difficult passages. They are still God’s word to us, to teach us, rebuke us, challenge us, and help us grow. Are you worried about frightening children with gruesome stories, or exposing them to sordid sexual sin when they are too young, and thus shattering their innocence? While we need to be sensitive to our children, I am inclined to think that children can cope with more than we give them credit for, and I wonder what is the greater danger: disturbing our children with confronting Bible stories, or giving them an edited, saccharine, weak view of God?

Next, we need to work at understanding God’s word for ourselves, so that we can then communicate it better to our children. Read the Bible for yourself. Dip into some commentaries; read books that teach biblical theology. Even with daily Bible reading at home, you may need to think beforehand about the part of the Bible you will be reading to your children, and how to simplify and explain it.

Teaching God’s word to your children is a great way to learn more about God’s Word yourself! I have often had new insights into the Bible through reading it to my children, both because I have to explain it to them, and also through their comments and questions.

Next week: some practical suggestions for reading the hard bits of the Bible with kids.

image is by johnb2008 from flickr

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