Recent research at Boston University hypothesized that children, with a “religious” background, are less able to distinguish between fantasy and reality than those raised in a secular environment. The research cited biblical events, such as Jesus turning water into wine, as potentially harmful to a child’s development, and “blurs the lines between fact and fiction.” In the study it was determined that not everyone agreed with the characterization that children, not raised to believe the Bible, “lose their sense of wonder and imagination at an earlier age.” Although the results of the study were inconclusive regarding the psychological impact on children, it did verify that children raised in Christian homes know their Bible stories and are more likely to accept the characters and events which they learn about in the Bible, than children who are not exposed to the Bible.
For many years, children have been fascinated by the classic books and stories of a world of fantasy and adventure from a variety of authors. Books like Treasure Island, Peter Pan, and Winnie the Pooh are classic tales that children around the world growup reading. More recently it has been the Harry Potter series that has captivated the minds of children with its stories of children in a make believe world. This past week the FCS drama and music departments performed the musical theater production of the fictional “Adams Family.” So with the explosion of virtual reality and electronic media, make believe is no longer just in the mind of our children, it is boldly portrayed on theater screens, television shows, electronic devices, in theme parks, and yes, in musical theater productions. Children all over the world have the images of a fantasy world embedded in their minds, and as a result, we here at school and parents have to remind our children about the difference between reality and fantasy.
As children grow up reading and enjoying these books of fantasy, and experiencing the movies and games which come from them, Christian families are also providing their children with the opportunity to hear the stories of the Bible. I would suggest that we must be careful not to present the truths of the Bible and God’s promises like children’s stories or the fantasy world of make believe. Part of the training that the Christian school and Christian families must faithfully work at is the preservation of the truth of Bible, not as story book, on par with Harry Potter, but as the living Word of God whose stories have eternal meaning and are relative to the life of a child living in the sophisticated time in which there is often a blur between fantasy and reality.
The lost world is desperately seeking answers. Unfortunately, our culture’s perception of truth is becoming increasingly more willing to accept that conventional wisdom, like the promises of the Bible, as artificial and hiding the “real” truth. People today, particularly the generation of young people that we teach every day in our classrooms, embrace the view that we live in a maze of illusions and self-delusion that they must extricate themselves from. Many of them have learned this by their experience with the electronic games they play. If they get into trouble, they just delete, and start over again. Unfortunately, this skepticism sometimes includes their view of God’s Word, and can result in it being very difficult for young people to accept Christ and believe in the truth of God’s Word as they get older.
As we approach the celebration of Easter Sunday we should be reminded of the perception that so many in our society have about the story of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Since that first Easter Sunday morning so many years ago, people have had to come to grips with the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. Was it real or is it just another story? This is a matter of most importance because since the very day Jesus rose from the dead, the most important message that believers can give to their children, and a lost world, is the account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ as told in the Bible. It is the most important story they could ever hear. In fact, the “Good News” isn’t good news at all if there was no resurrection.
So what makes the difference? What makes the Gospel real to you and me? It is what makes Christianity different from every other religion or belief system in the world. It is the fact that that Jesus Christ is alive. He rose from the grave and is going to return triumphantly to this earth to rule and to reign. His resurrection proved He was God and gave us the opportunity to have an indescribable peace in our lives knowing our sins are completely paid for and our eternal home will be in heaven. The time for influencing our children diminishes each passing day. If God’s promises and truths burn in our hearts the way it did in the early lives of the First Century Christians, we won’t delay our efforts to impress upon our children and our students the reality of God’s plan. We will charge ahead wasting no moment of one day to reach every child whom God has allowed us to influence.