Once Upon the Bible

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Kids all over the world are constantly pulled between traditional childhood culture and up-to-the-minute trends and fads. Fairy tales, popular movies, and fictional stories have powerful ways of illustrating specific ideologies. When kids’ culture contains everything from Aesop’s fables and classical mythology to Pokémon characters and Harry Potter hype, sometimes it feels as if God’s Word is being drowned out. Is there room for the Bible?

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There’s more room than you might think. Christians often shy away from connecting Bible lessons to fairy tales or popular culture for the simple reason that we believe that the Bible is truth, while stories are only fiction. Yet throughout his ministry, Jesus used parables — fictitious stories — to explain in ways humans could understand the incomprehensible logic of heaven and the kingdom of God. While our human nature causes us to identify with the jealous older brother, Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son calls us to open our arms as the father did…and come home with humility as the son did.

The Value Of Story

Jesus could’ve instructed us about the kingdom of heaven with only commands and facts: “God values the lost,” “Forgive because you are forgiven,” and “Be prepared for my return.” But he knew the things of heaven wouldn’t make sense to human minds — Israel proved that. The Israelites forgot God’s saving hand in Egypt, quickly lost patience waiting for the Messiah, and constantly ran after other gods. Jesus knew we’d understand truths of heaven
better if we could identify with a woman frantically searching for a lost coin, a servant who’d been forgiven much yet refused to forgive a little, and virgins who had (or had not) come prepared for a long wait.

The stories Jesus used had one thing that must’ve set them apart from the folk tales and oral traditions of the time. Jesus began or ended the parables he told with a statement that said, “This is the point. If you get anything out of the story, get this.”

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