Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on May 05, 2018
Talking to kids about God is something that happens frequently in my every day. It is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a minister. I find the age range in theological questioning to be deeply honest and direct. Some of the most challenging moments to talk about are when a child asks me a simple and deep question. Parents, grandparents, pets and friends get sick and die and they want to know why and what happens to them? They hear frightening voices in media, rhetoric on the news or from adults, and they worry and want to know if they are safe. Is God doing something about it?
I share this because I have been thinking about the demographic of the readers of my column. So far in my unofficial polling, which consists of Facebook and face to face, the age range is between 30- 85 years old, and a mixture of men and women.
However, I have recently learned that my demographic has broader appeal than I had originally imagined. The Journey has now broken into the 8 year-old and under! Yes, it is true. I do not jest. Our daughter is interested and she tells her friends. I am now getting requests!
When I say nobody, I mean nobody has come up to me and said, “you know what you should write about?” That was until last week. “Daddy, I think you should write about Samson in the Bible.” I asked her, “what would I say?” She had my first sentence already crafted. Her version began, “I was talking to my daughter Tessa,” then the rest was blah blah blah. As to the blah blah blah, how many of you know anything about the story of Samson?
Here is a very brief refresher. Samson is located in the book of Judges. It is about following what God wants for us and not what we want for ourselves. Samson was a Judge and had supernatural strength. Then Samson became great in his own eyes. I hate it when this happens. Samson falls in love with a woman he isn’t supposed to love. He began using his strength not for God’s goodness but to get personal revenge on others. Then he falls in love with another woman he isn’t supposed to fall in love with, Delilah, which means flirtatious in Hebrew. Delilah is offered money to find out what makes Samson so strong. She finally gets what she wants and learns it is his long hair that makes him strong. The Philistines barge in, cut his hair and gouge his eyes out. The eye gouge seemed so unnecessary and downright unsportsman-like. Samson is captured, taken back and put to work in humiliating ways. Samson’s hair began to grow and in one final moment he gets his strength and destroys their temple and kills a bunch of Philistines along the way. No wonder they made a movie about him.
You can see it so clearly. The destruction of the Philistine temple is what frees the Israelites.
At one level, we see a God who is willing to enter into the full brokenness and rebellion of humankind in order to accomplish a greater purpose for the world.
We see Samson who is prideful and boastful and acts as if he needs no help from anybody. Finally, Samson has a profound moment where he understands that being all alone and stuck in your own ways leads one into self- annihilation. I know full well that I will need to explain the last part to the 8 year old and under demographic.
What is the takeaway from this story that we know, think we know, or didn’t realize we knew at all? God keeps coming back for us, even when we get obnoxious and full of ourselves. Our current public dialogue and discourse all too often has become vulgar, destructive and full or ourselves. The story of Samson gives me hope.
A person who much was given uses all of his ability to destroy others and yet God finds victory for the fullness of humanity. This is why the story of Samson is as relevant today as it was when it was written 2,800 years ago.
Talking to kids who are worried, scared, their young voices need to be heard and treated with respect.
Samson may be the perfect story to talk with kids and let them know that things may sound scary today, but the goodness of God will find a way to rise to the top!
Rev. Daniel Christian is the Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah
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