Once Upon the Bible


“I tell you the truth,” he says in Matthew
24:47. “The kingdom of heaven is like…” he answers Peter in
Matthew 18:23. There is truth, despite the inconsequential details
of his story, and Jesus points out that truth.

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Biblical truth exists even in stories and cultural tales that
aren’t in the Bible because God’s truth isn’t stagnant. Our Lord
still moves in our world, and even people who don’t believe in God
are affected by his truth. Christians and non-Christians alike can
experience humility, forgiveness, and brokenness. Something about
the journey of the human race remains the same despite cultural and
millennial differences. We’re still the Israelites in the desert,
hoarding God’s blessings today in fear that he won’t provide
tomorrow and making idols out of things that satisfy us only for
the moment.

Separating Truth From Fiction

It may frighten Christian educators to hear kids say that
Jonah’s big fish was just like Pinocchio’s whale or that the giant
in “Jack and the Beanstalk” was the same as David’s Goliath. The
perceived threat is that kids will see similarities in characters
and stories and confuse fiction with biblical truth. In our
ministries, we certainly want to lay the foundation of God’s Word
as truth. Otherwise, what basis do kids have for understanding who
God is?

During vacation Bible school, one teacher brought preschoolers
to a room that was set up like the belly of Jonah’s big fish. She
led them into the fish’s plastic body and recreated Jonah’s
three-day experience in the fish by reading from the Bible and
allowing the kids to experience the fear and adventure Jonah did.
At the end, a paid child-care provider remarked, “Hey! That’s just
like Pinocchio.” A lesson defeated? A blurring of truth and
fiction? Perhaps, but definitely a teachable moment.

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In this situation, it’s important to think about kids’
developmental stages. Kids around age 9 can begin to understand
simple abstractions and are less likely to be confused by literary
connections. To bridge from fiction to fact, ask kids, “How similar
are the experiences of the fictional Pinocchio and the biblical
Jonah? How are they different?”


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