An interesting thing happened yesterday. I work at an elementary school and after the children leave at the end of the day, I remain, and continue working in the After School program. It is a less academic environment, where the kids rotate into different settings. One is play time in the gym, another is homework room, a third is games in the cafeteria, and the fourth is the computer lab.
I am the leader in the computer lab. It’s quiet, the kids like it in there, and for the first few minutes we get to chat, before they tell me their choice of educational computer software they want to use for the 30 minutes they are present.
Yesterday I noticed that after chatting and when all the kids were settled and sitting on their stools with headphones on and working busily way at the keyboards, a fourth grade boy who rarely talks had turned sideways from his computer and said he didn’t feel like doing computer any more. I asked him if he was feeling OK and he said yes. I asked him if he’d like to read a book and he said no. I said all right, let me know if you need anything.
A few minutes later he got up and sat next to me at my computer. I turned to chat with him and it was like pulling teeth. He gave one word answers to the usual questions, “Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? Yes. Did you have a good day at school? Yes. Was there anything special you learned today you would like to share? No. I gave wait times, and nada. So we just sat quietly, giving him space to ponder his thoughts, work up his courage, or whatever was obviously on his mind to come out.
After a moment, he said that he really doesn’t like it when his friends keep saying the world will end in 2012. He said that the Maya were a people that were either predicting a new phase of life and time, or that they were saying they themselves would be phased out as a people, was his interpretation. But the thought that the world was ending in 2012 was false. He said that one day recently he had to defend his point of view for a while in talking with a friend, even though his “throat hurt so bad it felt like a cat scratched it.” He spoke for a while, and it was the longest I’d ever heard him talk. Eventually, when he wound down, I asked, “Do you think that the world will ever really end?”
“Sure, when Jesus comes,” he replied.
Ah! I asked him to share with me his ideas on that. What ensued was the most balanced, theological, and confident conversation about the end times I’d ever had with anyone, adults included. He knew about the earth being melted in a fervent heat. He knew about the moment when satan is thrown into a gloomy dungeon with a chain. He knew that the tribulation will be horrific, and that after that Jesus comes back in glory “and all will see him.” He knew about the rapture and that it could occur at any moment, “even before we finish this sentence, or years from now. You just don’t know,” he said.
I was proud of him. He was confident in the Lord’s work, but impatient with those who turn to other predictions or philosophical structures. I wish the conversations I have with adults were this way. Most “Christians” I speak with never bring it up on their own. If I do, they invariably edge away, or change the subject. Most say they are scared, or that it is a scary subject. Many spout incorrect doctrine. One lady I spoke with was a holy roller, bible-thumping self-stated believer. When I mentioned the rapture, she said, “Oh, that’s just a made-up doctrine from the 1800s.” I showed her the 1st Thessalonians verses where Paul reveals the rapture doctrine, and she still wouldn’t believe. Adults pollute their beliefs with personal wishes, refusals to study, and stubbornness. Children have an innocent belief, a pure belief. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said:
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of Godlike a little child will never enter it.”And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:13-16
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (Is 11:6)
This ten-year-old’s steady and clear-eyed view of Jesus, the end time, false doctrine, and sin is something that should be expressed by every adult. But it is not. It’s sad that many adult “Christians” are so weak and pale in their faith. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said in Revelation 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” These believers are not hot nor are they cold. They are lukewarm believers who will be discovered not to have been believers at all.
PS: I know there are detractors who will say, “That kid was forced to believe, it was shoved down his throat.” But all children are under the tutelage of their parents. Their ideas and outlook into the world are through the lens of their parents: for good or for bad. Children who grow up liberal, on welfare, feminist, homosexual, Buddhist, Mormon, whatever, have learned it. But Christianity is the only truth where it is written: “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6). No matter what you are, your parents taught you, either by word or by deed. They “shoved it down your throat,” as it were. The children are watching. What do YOU believe? How do you demonstrate it? Time is short. It may be as short as until the end of this sentence.