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When talking to kids about God, acknowledge that it can be scary

Noah’s ark is a favorite theme for nursery décor, and makes for fun coloring pages full of animals going two by two, but it’s a story of God nearly wiping humankind off the face of the earth.

Noah's Ark Box Cover, CMP Toys, 1970s. Photo courtesy Tom via Flickr Creative Commons.

 

When I was small, I feared God.Not in the biblical sense of honoring and obeying God, although I tried hard to do that as well. I was actually afraid of God, whom, I believed, was always watching me, ready to pounce if I made a wrong move or even if I had a wrong thought. I spent much time wracked with guilt over the most minor perceived infractions, and I asked Jesus to “come into my heart” dozens of times, just to be on the safe side. I didn’t want to end up in hell through a clerical error on my own part, so I constantly asked for forgiveness and worried over each little ‘sin.’May I note here that this brand of fearful religion was emphatically not what was taught to me by my parents? It was not. Nor, I think, was it taught by my varied and colorful Sunday school teachers over the years. Still, when it came right down to it, the essence of being a Christian seemed to me to consist in keeping certain rules, because if you didn’t keep those certain rules just right, the wrath of God might come pouring out on you as it did on the people in Noah’s day, or those folks at the tower of Babel, or Sodom and Gomorrah.

God seemed both really powerful and really scary. “God is love,” my Bible (and countless Christian greeting cards) said, but I wasn’t so sure.

Have you ever considered why we tell children some of the stories we do? Noah’s ark is a favorite theme for nursery décor, and makes for fun coloring pages full of animals going two by two, but it’s a story of God nearly wiping humankind off the face of the earth.

Noah's Ark Box Cover, CMP Toys, 1970s. Photo courtesy Tom via Flickr Creative Commons.

Noah’s Ark Box Cover, CMP Toys, 1970s. Photo courtesy Tom via Flickr Creative Commons.

{The above is excerpted from a piece I wrote recently for iBelieve.com. Check it out! While you’re at it, you might like to check out this interview I recently did with the folks at Peace Hill Press, who published my just-released book.}