The commercial starts with a young girl twirling around dancing. As she looks at the image of herself on the computer screen, she exclaims, “CINDERELLA!”. The message is concise and clear. Your child not only can act like the princess she dreams of becoming…she now IS the princess! Her face is stamped and printed on page after page of crayola’s newest line of personalized coloring books; where everyone’s dreams come true. This may seem innocent enough, and lets be honest what guy my age didn’t want to be Aladdin growing up. I had the vest and the magic carpet. Ok, I had Abu too. More importantly, I was the hero. Likewise, whatever flavor of story you choose for your coloring book, you are the main character.
This mentality though, goes way beyond a cute little coloring book or Halloween costume. The markings of being self-centered , prideful, embittered, autonomous, and individualistic within a believer or unbeliever, do not arise overnight. They are embedded. The enemy is no respecter of age. He starts from the moment we take our first breath. From the time we are old enough to understand language we are bombarded with signals and messages from the world that we are the center of the universe. And it would be naive of us to think otherwise. The problem i’m convicted of today, however, is that within the church we must combat this ..but often we support it.
THIS IS TRUTH – We are fearfully and wonderfully made, the Psalmist tells us. We are knit together in our mother’s womb’s, known specifically by our Creator. This is a wonderful truth that should make us weep at the thought of being intimately known by the Creator of the universe…
HOWEVER – We promote this to our children to an extent that cripples them. Follow the thoughts. “No one has your fingerprint”. “Just like there can never be a snow flake the same, no one can be you.” “You are unique and no one in the history of the world before or after will ever be like you.” And finally it comes…boiling to a point of no return…”Jesus, above all else, was thinking of you on the cross” or how about, “Jesus died for you so that he wouldn’t have to live without you”. All of these come from a partial truth, but when stretched this far become completely unfounded in scripture altogether.
As ministers and teachers we have to balance this truth with an understanding that we are also in so many ways exactly alike. We are ALL sinners. We have ALL fallen short of God’s glory. There is NOTHING you can do to find worth within yourself. You are DEAD. LOST. POWERLESS. We must embrace this! The gospel begins with a recognition that we have NOTHING good within us at all. No one seeks God. He seeks us. He liberates us. He lived righteous. He died defeating sin. He rose conquering death.
Our message to children within the church doesn’t necessitate mixed signals. We should recognize our unique characteristics as image bearers of the Most High God, but also realize that this applies to all of mankind. We should love our children specifically, and in a special way…but all the while we must maintain a far distance from a “me” centered “trading the truth of God for a lie” culture who’s master would love nothing more than for us even as believers to live lives with us as the hero. We need to teach our children that our only hope of heaven is bound in what Christ has completed, having his righteousness given freely to us, our sin washed clean by his blood.
Oh that our children would want to replace their picture with that of Christ Jesus our Lord. He is the main character in our story. Not us.