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?
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."