Last week in Sunday School we talked about the number 1, and how there’s only One Way to Heaven—and that’s Jesus. Of course, “Jesus” is the Sunday School answer to nearly everything. And it works, especially if you’re a young child. But what about as we grow older?
This got me thinking. Jesus said He was the door, a way into the Kingdom of God where we can have fellowship and relationship with God. Now. Right now; not just in the future.
The Sunday School answer “Jesus” holds so much more than just a ticket to Heaven, but also a way to wholeness and healing. Our acceptance of God’s salvation also offers us a way to be in the world where we are because His Kingdom lives inside us.
I posited my idea on Twitter soon after that and was richly blessed by the responses—many from women who are pastors and lay leaders and moms.
Here was my question: How do you verbalize to the young people in your circle, your children, grandchildren, at church, home or whatever, about why we need Jesus as our Savior?
I received the most rich and varied responses from many friends, both ordained pastors and laypeople and thought I’d recount some of them here. They greatly added to my understanding of what it means to be a Christian. It’s so much more than just a way into the Kingdom—it’s life on Earth with the Saviour.
Here are their thoughts:
April Fiet, Pastor
“I love this question. Jesus often told the people that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. I believe that means that when we put our faith in Jesus, that is the first step of walking in the kingdom. It is an opportunity to bring the kingdom here by how we live.
We don’t have to wait for heaven to experience the fruit of the spirit and to share those things with others. Yes, in the life to come we will experience those things perfectly, but for now we work to bring God’s kingdom in our homes and neighborhoods.”
Sarah Westfall, mom and Christian author
“These are such good questions—and these are conversations I still fumble through with my kids due to old words & ways that were ingrained in me from when I was their age. So please know I’m no expert…But what helps me talk with them about Jesus is to go back to our design: that we were made to be with God. Not just someday but here & now—on earth as in heaven. Jesus is the one who meets us in this messy middle space and invites us into more.”
Catherine McNeil, mom & author
“I think about these things often. We have such a reductive way of talking about Jesus’ work and redemption. Yes, we believe he reconciled us to God in a way that impacts not only our presence with God in eternity but also *now.* But even this amazing gift does not cover it.
Jesus’ own words (and those of the Gospel writers) place far less emphasis on “what’s in it for me” as individual believers, and far more on the promise of the injustices of society turned upside-down and made whole. The prophets, Mary, and Jesus all declared this….
Mary praised God that, through the Messiah/Jesus, the hungry would be filled, the rich would go away empty. Jesus himself declared that the promises of the prophets was fulfilled in him: good news for the poor, the captives, the oppressed set free. So…
So I agree with you, Jody. Re. the Bible, Jesus’ salvation does involve resurrection. But ALSO the presence of Holy Spirit today. And ALSO, a way of community life in which there is no oppression, poverty, or injustice. Not so much “for me” as “for us”, for the world, creation. It’s like a gift that just keeps on giving. Not just “there, later” but “here, now.” And not just “me” but “us, all.” It does seem, though, that God has left us with the responsibility to keep unwrapping this gift, working it out day by day.”
Nancy Franson, mom, Nana & friend
“Jody, I’ve been thinking about your question throughout last evening and this morning, and I keep coming back to the 4-part framework that helped correct some of my thinking about how I was introduced to a fear-based view of the gospel as a child.
When we frame the gospel as a narrative of creation, fall, redemption, restoration, it’s possible to explain it in ways children can grasp that don’t merely focus on personal salvation but on the restoration of all things that were damaged by the fall.
I think even children can recognize that things in this world are not the way they’re supposed to be – sickness, death, sorrow, violence, broken relationships; The Baltimore Ravens, for pity’s sake! 3/x
From there we can begin to introduce a sense of longing for a restoration to the way God intended as he reconciles us to himself through the sacrifice of his beloved son – drawing us to him as friends as Courtney mentioned. But that’s not all!
He’s also at work in this fallen world, restoring and reclaiming all things – ALL THINGS – and making them new so that one day, everything that is sad will be untrue.”
Courtney Ellis, Pastor & mom
“Kids (and adults!) respond well to the Jesus as friend/brother teaching. We’ve all felt lonely, scared, isolated, etc., but Jesus walks alongside us throughout our lives. There’s eternal significance, but there’s also constant companionship, tender care, courageous presence.”
Traci Rhoades, Lay leader, author & mom
“I think we can talk about all the ways Jesus helps us in life. The fruit of the Spirit, someone to talk to about anything in prayer, being in a church community.”
(Watercolor ‘thankful’ is mine. JLC.)
So tell me, dear Readers & friends—what is salvation like for you? I’d love to hear in the comments.