Learning about God and understanding His words sometimes means trying to understand some abstract topics. I think one of the reasons parents shy away from teaching their children more Bible at home is the fear of trying to explain concepts like eternity when we don’t totally understand them ourselves.
While I believe it is probably impossible for the human mind to totally grasp some of these concepts, there are ways to help your child begin to understand them in a simple fashion. Young children tend to think only in concrete terms. This means they can understand things better when they can use their senses to examine them. That is why for a small child “love” might mean hugs and kisses. It is also why young children often say “I hate you” when they really mean they are very angry with you. To them anger and hate look alike.
So when you try to explain abstract ideas to your child, try to relate it to something they can see, hear, taste, smell or touch. For example, use an apple to begin explaining how God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are separate beings and yet one at the same time. Peel an apple and then slice the apple off of the core. Explain how the peel, the apple and the core can be separated, but yet they are still part of the same apple. In the same way God, Christ and the Holy Spirit can work in different ways but all still be part of God.
Jesus used this technique in his parables. He related heavenly ideas to concrete, everyday things the people understood. Children can easily relate to the parable of the lost coin. What if you told them to think about how they would feel if they lost their favorite toy or blankie. That’s how God feels when we walk away from Him and stop obeying and loving Him.
Your child may not have seen a sheep or been a shepherd boy, but what if he is passionate about protecting the new puppy in your house? Suddenly the parable of the lost sheep and other stories with shepherds caring for their sheep really mean something to your child. When teaching the parables, don’t be afraid to stop and compare it to something in your child’s world that will have the same emotional meaning for her as the original parable was trying to teach.
So grab an apple and your Bible and start tackling some of those Biblical topics you have avoided. Who knows, maybe one of you will figure out a concrete way to teach Revelations! Comment on this post with some concrete examples you have used with your child to explain some abstract Biblical concepts. I’d love to hear some of your ideas!