While working in Children’s church I had this interesting experience. While talking about something completely different, one of the kids brought up the subject of Satan. “Well,” this child asked, “if God CAN vanquish Satan and the book of Revelation predicts that he WILL, why wait?”
Before that subject could even be responded to, another child asked about Hell, and then another one accused the second of having said a bad word, and then the whole situation devolved into a lot of shouted questions and the kids looking distressed in general. Distressed, I say, but a few looked downright panicky. That’s when it hit me.
Beneath the happy-go-lucky veneer that had been showing all Sunday morning, not even very far beneath the surface, these kids were worried. They were struggling. They couldn’t understand their faith. And they were afraid. They had been told to Evangelize to their friends because if their friends died they may go to hell and be separated from them for eternity. They had been told to be wary of the temptations of the Enemy. They had been told a lot of things, and while they were very quick with the questions they were also obviously very uncomfortable with the fact that they wanted to ask them.
It broke my heart. I wish that rather than being an observer I’d been their teacher, because while the youth minister did a great job of fielding the questions and getting the lesson back on track, I nearly felt as if the lesson for the day should’ve been trashed and those nagging questions just dealt with. Not that I could’ve provided adequate answers, but I could’ve reassured them of what we know to be true.
We don’t need to be afraid.
We need to obey God not out of fear of consequences, but out of love. And if we are obeying God and in his hands, the future should hold no fear for us. We don’t need to fear Satan or eternity. We should talk to our friends about our faith not because we are afraid of them burning in Hell, but because we’ve experienced the love of God in our lives and we want everyone to share in that joy. I wanted to ask them if they had ever experienced God’s love, searched after it, heard their parents talk about it in their own lives.
For one very breathless moment I wanted to turn that place upside down.
The church is supposed to be a haven from fear, not a place where young ones learn it.