Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Accepting the Mystery

Such is my own way of looking at what  Christians call the Atonement.  But remember this is only one more picture.  Do not mistake it for the thing itself:  and if it does not help you, drop it.  (Mere Christianity, p. 61)

As I read the last paragraph of Chapter 4 Book Two of Mere Christianity, I was reminded of what Jesus said about one needing to be like a child to enter the kingdom of Heaven.   

 I have had the privilege of teaching the faith to children for seventeen years.  While it didn't start out so in the beginning, my favorite part of the whole year is that day when some brave child asks about the great mysteries of the faith.

How can God have no beginning?   Everything has a beginning!

How can God be three individual persons in one God?   Yes, we know about the shamrock and St. Pat, but aren't those leaves really just part of the shamrock?   So aren't Father, Son, and Holy Spirit just parts of God?

How can one man, no matter how good, pay for the sins of everyone in the whole world?

I can't pretend that any of those questions are easy.   Each time the questions are asked, I have to ask the Holy Spirit to help me.  Each time I have to ask the Holy Spirit to help my students accept.  You know what?  The Holy Spirit has not let me down ever!  

My favorite part is when I look at their faces after doing my best to answer them, and then admitting that these things are a mystery to me, too.  Indeed, great theologians have contemplated just such questions their whole lives long and come up with the answer "It really is a mystery."   Many times I have seen the faces of the children who ask the question relax when they get that answer.   They can accept a mystery.   Some ask "Will we know when we get to Heaven?"  My answer?  "We will see God in Heaven face to face, so we just might.  And if not, we can at least ask Him?"

Children are able to get the concept that if it doesn't help, they can drop it.   My students have taught me well.     

For more discussions about this Chapter of Mere Christianity, check out my friend Sarah's blog.


Annie K said...

I just finished reading a book called Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo. Wow. Talk about a child's view of heaven and Jesus...

Glynn said...

I taught children's Sunday School for many years -- and suffice it to say I learned far more from them than they did from me. Good post, Helen.

Sarah Salter said...

Oh, Helen, I got goose bumps reading your post! First of all, the reminder that it's the Holy Spirit that's doing the pushing on both sides of the equation. He's giving them the questions, you the answers, and them the understanding. Wow! And then, the revelation at the end that your students have been your teachers. There's such humility in that! And that, too, is the Holy Spirit... He's the teacher and He's working through them even when they don't know it. Wow! I just love it! Thanks for this post, Helen!

Anonymous said...

i love your last line about your students teaching you well.

:-) wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Children are amazing teachers and like you said, it's no mistake that Jesus tells us we have to become children to enter the Kingdom. Great post, Helen! Thank you. :)

A Joyful Noise said...

You are priviledged and so are the children who sit in your classes. A good teacher will inspire thought and questions from their students. The Holy Spirit guides you in finding the answers each child needs to satisfy their wondering faith. I used the example of an egg to explain the trinity. One egg in three parts. Yolk, white and shell.