I asked my son today what the Bible story was at church in his little 2-year old Sunday School class. He told me, “Jesus and hippos and fire.” Awesome! The “fire” part I get because the craft he brought home had a picture of an altar on fire (from the story of Elijah) that he had colored red. I asked him if it was fire and he corrected me by saying, “No, it’s crayon.” (Yes, of course!) And it makes sense that he said the story was about Jesus, since it was after all, a Bible story. But the “hippos?” Well, they are his favorite animal so why not?
I love that he is learning Bible stories, even if he jumbles up the story lines a little! Even though the stories in the Bible are very confusing to a toddler (a man in a whale’s tummy, a floating zoo), they are building an important foundation of knowing God and his redemptive story. Somewhere along the way I think we may have lost the focus of teaching children Bible stories and replaced it with teaching moral principles. (Not that teaching moral principles is negative, it’s just that teaching those principles exclusively misses the source from which those principles come from; God) But the Bible stories show who God is and we get a much fuller understanding of him through the Bible, from Old Testament through New Testament. When we have a proper understanding of God, the moral principles naturally flow outward. I hope we never feel uncomfortable with teaching our children the stories of God’s word, even if we, as parents do not fully understand the stories. So when my little guy talks about Jesus, hippos, and fire; I smile because his heart is being imprinted with the very words and message of his heavenly father.