Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Didn't Know First Graders Could Be So Heartless

By: Jenny Bruce

This morning's elementary lesson covered 1 Samuel 2-3 and we discussed the sins of Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas.

I asked the kids what they would have done if they had been in Eli's place and seen their sons dishonoring God. There were many interesting/rather horrifying responses, but one sweet and shy little first grader's answer topped them all.

She looked up at me with her big eyes and solemnly said, "Torture them."

Perhaps a few more Sunday school lessons on compassion are in order.


John said...

Wow. The honesty of children amazes me. Seems they were looking for the right answer and not necessarily sharing their opinions. On top of the lessons on compassion, I would emphasize the love of the Father in the OT.

Exodus 34:6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation."

And to "soften" the blow of the second half of that passage, add the following:

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

God bless!

Jenny Bruce said...

Great suggestions, John!

I particularly like your idea of emphasizing the love of the Father in the OT, since kids sometimes see the God of the OT as mean and the God of the NT as gracious. The consistency of God's character is definitely something to reinforce when you're teaching little ones (and big ones, too!)

Kids are awesome in their (usual) lack of guile. I love hearing my Sunday schoolers' answers because they're always completely different from what I expect. I was thinking more along the lines of, "If I was Eli, I'd remove my sons from their positions of power" and they gave me, "If I was Eli, I'd whip them", "If I was Eli, I'd kill them", and "If I was Eli, I'd kick them in the . . ." (3other answers from today.)

However, when I asked them how they could obey God this week and serve as examples to their families, their responses included, "Cleaning up my parents' room without being asked", "Not getting mad at my brother when he takes my toy", and "Helping the poor."

So even though they occasionally crave violence, they're really swell kids:)

Super verses - thanks so much for sharing!

John said...

lol .. Those other responses are priceless! I'm sure glad I'm not Eli's kid!

Just this morning, RC Sproul spoke on that very dichotomy of the "cruel" Father in the OT and the loving God in the New. God wasn't cruel. He is showing the consequences of what sin does to our relationship with Him. It's worth the listen (side link in my blog if you're interested).

I know how you feel about how we train the children under our care (especially when they're not our own). Kids are great (I'm an AWANA leader for the Sparks; 5-8 year olds), but they can be challenging to be sure! They are so honest and innocent. My own little tricycle motors at 5 and 3 are probably the most challenging, tho!

The good thing is that while the world says there's no handbook, I think Proverbs is a good one (and a few chapters in Paul's epistles are good, as well). I try to stick to the Scripture and leave the results up to God. Not always successfully tho ... thank God for His patience :)

Blessings! :)