Big Truths for Little Kids, Part One
As we noted last week, the root problem in a lot of bad catechesis is ultimately not ignorance, but pride. The cure for the sin of pride, as with all sin, is repentance and a willingness to humbly listen to the Church.
However, that said, the problem of how to talk with our kids about God remains. This week and next, we will look at some responses to the big questions kids are asking. These questions are, by the way, real ones taken from a recent poll by Dorling-Kindersley. They are as ancient as humanity and as current as today’s headlines. But most important, they are questions to which God has given us answers—answers it is our solemn duty as parents to know and understand for the sake of both our children and ourselves.
Does God exist?
If God made us who created God?
No one created God. God is the Creator. Everything you see around you is a “creature”. That doesn’t mean it’s a monster like Godzilla or the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It means it is created—a thing made of "creature stuff". And because that’s all we see, it's natural to think that everything there is (including God) is also made of "creature stuff". But God is not "made" of anything. God is "eternal stuff". Creatures "have" being that they borrow temporarily from God. God is Being. He always was and always will be.
What does God look like?
God looks like Jesus Christ. If you have seen him, you have seen the Father, says Jesus. 2000 years ago, God the Father sent his Son, who is just as much God as the Father is, to take on a human body and brain and be born as a human baby. That’s what Christmas celebrates: the day that God became human. The baby’s name was Jesus and he was born for one reason: to show us what God was actually like and to make it possible for us to know him. The greatest way Jesus showed us what God is like was by offering to give up his life for us by dying a terrible death on the cross so that we could be saved from sin and everlasting death.
Why is the world here?
The world is here because it was God's good pleasure to make it. God didn’t have to make the world nor did he need the world to entertain him like a TV show. Instead, God made the world for the same reason you like to do nice things for the people you love, or draw pictures or tell stories: because you love doing it. God loves beauty and he loves to create, like an artist. He is so full of creativity that no single thing he creates can express everything about him. So he created zillions of things, all of which express a little about him. The bigness of space reflects a little of the bigness of God. The roar of the ocean reflects a little of his power. The beauty of the flower shows a little of God’s beauty.
Why are we here?
You and I were invited into existence by God so that we and all his saints could be happy forever with him in Heaven. You are here because God loves you so much he made you especially for himself (and for us, your family, who also love you no matter what, forever and ever). You are here to get to know God, to learn to love him and live out his life in this world so that you can get ready for the perfect happiness of Heaven. Jesus is your teacher and helper through his Church, the sacraments, and through the people you love and are loved by.
Why are people bad to each other?
People are bad to each other because they love themselves more than they love God or other people. When they do that, and other people or God get in the way of something they want, they hurt the other people and God to get it. It's called "sin". We all do it. And it makes God even sadder than it makes us.
Why is there so much war in the world?
This may seem strange, but it’s because people are hungry for the happiness of God, and try to get it in wrong ways. If that sounds crazy, it's because it is. Sin is basically crazy. Sin means putting yourself before God. People don't want to put themselves after God and obey him, which is the only way to be really happy. So they try to steal happiness by beating up their neighbors and taking things they think will give them happiness. Some people think that a lot of money will make you happy. Some think that a lot of toys will do it. Some think you can be happy if you are strong enough to make everybody think and do what you want them to. Some people are afraid of poverty, sickness or death. So they do bad things to other people like stealing or bossing them around because they think that will keep them safe from these bad things.
But what we all have in common is that we want happiness. However, happiness comes from God, not from these other things. And the way God makes us happy is by teaching us to be like Jesus, who didn’t beat people up and take their stuff, or treat people badly just to escape something he was afraid of. Instead, he loved everybody, and was willing to die, even for the people who hated him. That’s really hard to do—so hard that we can only do it with Jesus’ help. And many people would rather have wars than try it.
Do you know why Jesus wept?
He wept because he was angry at death and the sin that causes it. He was so angry that he fought it and beat it so that we could live forever. The little picture he gave of what he was going to do happened when he raised his friend Lazarus from the dead. That showed he had power over death. But the main event happened when Jesus allowed himself to be beaten up and crucified—nailed to a cross till he died—and then rose from the dead to a whole new kind of life where he would never die again.
Is there life after death?
Yes. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and promised that we would be with him in his Father's house to live eternally. He made sure his disciples understood that he wasn’t just a ghost or a something they were imagining. 500 people saw him at the same time and many of them even ate with him and touched him with their own hands. He promised that what God had done for him, he would do for everybody who showed their trust in him by doing as he said to do. That’s what Easter celebrates!
Next week, we will answer more of the questions our children ask about God.
Copyright 2008 - Mark P. Shea