At College Park, we believe that little people can learn big truths. That’s why we hold kidTHINK every year as a companion to the church’s larger theology conference, called THINK. This year, while adults grow in their understanding of and pursuit of holiness, their children will learn how. So, what practical tools do children (and the rest of us) need to actually live out this call? Theology is for kids, and here are three ways we’re bringing rich, theological truth to children at this year’s kidTHINK:
Focus Their Aim
We realize some children have not yet come to faith in Christ—the all important first step to growing
in godliness. So, we present the gospel. We explain that on their own, our works cannot please God, but God forgives and welcomes those who put their trust in Jesus—who took the punishment we deserved on the cross.
After we become Christians, what do we do with the rest of our lives? This is where it becomes important to focus their aim. The Christian’s aim is to seek to please God (2 Cor. 5:9). And we do this in two primary ways: loving him and loving others (Matt. 22:37-39). We can grow in godliness by learning to choose pleasing God over self.
Take Them from Fruit to Root
But how can we tell if we are seeking to please God? Using this question, we will teach children about the concept of spiritual fruit. We are like fruit trees. Our fruit reveals what kind of tree we are (Luke 6:43-45). An apple tree bears apples and an orange tree bears oranges. Likewise, a Christian is to bear fruit resembling the character of the Father.
The Bible teaches us what good fruit looks like (Gal. 5:22-23), but it also teaches us what bad fruit looks like (Gal. 5:19-21). If we see bad fruit in our lives, then we need to go further than simply picking off the bad fruit. We need to trace the fruit back to the root of the issue: our heart.
Biblically, our heart is more than just our feeler: it is our inner self. It is our very core. It represents what we want, what motivates us, and what we run after (Heb. 4:12). Bad fruit reveals a heart that wants to please self, more than pleasing God. So, the final step becomes: what do we do with the bad fruit?
Put Off/Put On
We might think our goal should be to pick off the bad fruit. But without getting at the root, the bad fruit will come back. A child (or adult) who struggles to get along with their sibling might think they will solve the problem by simply staying away from their sibling. But this does not get at the real problem: a heart that does not consider others above self (Phil. 2:3-4).
Likewise, a child who struggles to turn in homework might have an organization problem, but he also probably has a heart that loves comfort and ease more than responsibility (Prov. 24:30-34). Instead of picking off fruit, we follow the three-step response laid out in Scripture: put off, renew your mind, and put on (Eph. 4:22-24).
When we put off, we put off not only the wrong actions but repent—turn away from—the heart issue itself. When we renew our mind, we fill it with Scripture that addresses the specific heart issue. And when we put on, we seek replacement actions that get at the heart of our sin. As we turn to the Holy Spirit to help us, he uses the power of the Word to transform our hearts. Over time, the selfish heart learns to love others, the lazy heart learns to serve others, and both look more and more like Jesus as we continue to seek to please God.