My little boy has always been fascinated by animals. In fact, animals played a big role in helping him converse in the early stages of our homeschooling. He is drawn to impressively large and powerful creatures, like the pachyderms and the dinosaurs. His main preoccupation is playing with these figures most of the day. And his favorite topic often revolves around these creatures and all that they do. As little boys who are ever so curious would ask, “What are reindeer antlers for? Why do giraffes use their necks?” And this time I got to answer the question, “Why do hippos use their mouths to fight?” His fixation on animal fighting and defense behavior reminds me that I am indeed talking with a very young man. God has designed boys this way just as little girls are drawn to nurturing by playing with dolls and dress-up. I told my three year old, “Hippos use their mouths to protect themselves because they don’t have antlers like the deers or tusks like the elephants.”
He followed up with another question, “Why do they use their mouths to protect themselves?” “Because that is how God designed them,” I quipped. He continued asking yet another question, “Are they good?” “Yes,” I told him. “They are good because they are doing the things God has designed them to do.” Then I took the opportunity to ask, “How about when you and your 姐姐 [sister] fight? Is that good?” “No,” he answered sheepishly. “Why not?” “Because it’s sin.” I did not expect him to verbalize this answer at this moment even though my husband and I have taught him and his sister that any wrongdoing is ultimately done against our Maker. So I asked further, “What should you do instead?” He replied, “Hug and love together [each other].” “Yes, that’s right. Why should you love each other?” He remained quiet. “Who first loved and forgave you?” Still no answer. So I told him gently, “God did. What did God do?” Then this time he exclaimed, “Made me! Saved me!” It was turning out to be a catechism session so I told him, “Yes, God made us and saved us. How did he do that?” “By dying on the cross.” “That’s right. God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. God first loved and forgave us this is why we love and forgive others.”
This morning chat with my preschooler reminded me how important cultivating Gospel conversations are with my children. When I resolve to deliberately find ways to point out how God’s Word speaks to all of life and my children’s lives, the Gospel will not be reduced to a four-point presentation one morning after Sunday School. Instead, the good news that Jesus died for my sins so that I can be right with God is the life-giving message that shows me that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever dared admit, but through Jesus I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. And by taking my place for the punishment that I deserved, Jesus paid my debt and offered me forgiveness of sins. And this promise of Christ and His righteousness is for us and for our children because God is faithful.