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February 6, 2009 / beidson

Eden, King, and Cosmos: The Gospel Story In My Home

I have two young kids, and only one is able to understand anything I’m saying (she’s 3 years old).universe My son is only 4 months old, but it won’t be long until we start to have conversations, even if it is only jibberish.

One of my main objectives as a father is to teach my children the story of Scripture, the Gospel, drawn out over thousands of years of human history, the pinnacle and point of creation and existence.  But how do I tell this to a toddler?  It has been quite the experiment in simplification, and the truth is that the profundity of the Gospel is for children’s minds too; we just need to make the greatness of the Gospel comprehendable to them.  Children can be amazed and marveled, and we must present the Gospel as a story that is compelling enough to capture their hearts and minds.

What my wife and I have learned to do is start in Eden with creation and the fall of man.  This has not been an easy task, but if there is one thing my daughter understands it is the reality of transgression.  She is keenly aware of her disobedience, and my wife and I are showing her the root of this rebellion.

We start in Eden and show her the deceit and terror of the Serpent,  how Adam and Even listened to the snake’s lies about Jesus being a bad king, and the subsequent separation of creation from King Jesus and the establishment of Satan’s little monarchy over the cursed cosmos.  We use language like Adam and Eve trading their “Jesus-heart” for a “snake-heart” and show her how the snake’s offer to Adam and Eve is now offered to her, and she can either choose to obey the snake or obey King Jesus.

Of course, the snake-heart/Jesus-heart tension runs its course throughout the pages of the Old and New Testaments, and every story can be filtered through this grid, making it very simple for our daughter to understand the Bible, and even more, the story she now finds herself in.  She gets this language and seems to grasp the deadliness of the snake and the great wonder and kindness of the King.

But before leaving Eden, we are sure to tell her about God’s promise to Adam and Eve to send a Son who would squash the snake’s head so that he can’t lie anymore and tell people to disobey God.  This squashing of the serpent’s head is a theme that recurs continually in every story we tell.  This is biblical theology in its simplest form.  This Warrior-King theme is very easy for her to understand, and so we stress it continually.  It helped when I found a deadly snake in our front yard a few months ago and cut its head off.  Our daughter watched the whole event unfold with fear and amazement.

After Eden, and after the many OT stories of failure and redemption (connected to the snake and the Snake-squasher), we move to the Cross and explain that people loved the snake so much that they killed the King, but that the King came back to life because he was too strong to be kept in the ground.  He busted out of the grave and scared the snake and now the snake knows the King is coming to squash his head for good.  Jesus is the King, and the Devil is the snake, and Jesus is going to win.

When it comes to the present and the future, we keep our daughter within the context of death and life and speak to her about the day the King comes back to finally kill the snake, and how he will punish people who love to disobey God and obey the snake, but give new Jesus-hearts to those who believed Jesus was the King.  And so we constantly ask her if her heart is obeying the snake or the King and remind her that the King is coming to settle the score.  He will put an end to dead cats in the road and mean people hurting little kids and daddys who don’t love thier wives.  He will put an end to the snake’s sway over the whole world, even to the moon and the stars.

Jesus is the King of the Cosmos, and he will give us Eden again, but this time without the snake.

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For a good children’s Bible, I’d recommend The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm.  It is very a very gospel-centered children’s edition, and the pictures and stories are especially compelling in their presentation and display.

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