A few weeks ago I shared with them through four signs (heart, X, cross and questionmark - http://www.the4points.com/INT/index.php) the story of salvation and invited them to pray in order to recieve Christ in their lives (as well as a recommitment prayer for those who went astray and wanted to come back). Funny enough they all (around 70 kids) prayed in one voice both prayers with me!
Anyway, as we continued with the programme one of the kids came to me, pulled on my shirt and asked: So, now what!?! Puzzled I replied: Now we play soccer! He - obviously not satisfied with my answer - repeated his words: So, now what!?! I had no idea what his question was, I apologized and asked for an explanation. Then he "decoded" his message for me: “You said that, if we ask Jesus to forgive us he will do that and we are saved, BUT – now what!?!” Finally I understood, and I tried my best to give him a good and quick answer. I explained what he can do now in his life to honour God and nurture his relationship with him (like prayer, reading the Bible, fellowship with other beievers...).
But, his challenging question kept ringing in my mind for the past few weeks. So I started to explore what might be behind this question and I would like to share what it can actually indicate for you and me:
1. Who am I now?
- Know you’re HIS child: Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12
We all have a desire to belong (to a family, peer group, society...), that just seems to be a natural desire from every human being (even though most of us cherish some alone time from time to time). Once we recieved Christ in our lives at least three realities appear:
Identity – Who am I? Have you ever tried to answer this important question. If I don’t know my identity, there is only confusion, uncertainty, fear… As soon as you realise who you are you can find peace, clarity and guidance. Once you accepted Christ you KNOW that you are a child of God (do not rely this truth on momentary emotions).
Belonging - If I am part of a family I am not alone, not on my own. I often hear about people feeling lonely, they have no one who supports them or they can support. If you belong to a family it is usually different. It might not be the perfect environment, but you can be certain that you have somebody around you who cares. We all desire to belong somewhere, as a church family it is our responsibility, it gives us meaning and purpose.
Responsibility – In a family everybody has a specific role to play. For example, you need to help in the household (cleaning your room, or whasing the dishes...). As you are a child of God you will also have responsibilities, towards God, yourself, and within your church-family.
2. Where do I go from here?
- Embrace learning more: But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14
What do I actually kno about Christianity, the Church and God? Especially in the early years we have much more questions than answers and there are several realities to consider:
Education (Knowledge) – Today education seems to be put by many societies in the centre of life. While I think that many of us overemphasize the importance of a good education, it is important to get educated in as many fields as possible. As a Christian it is vital to be educated about Christian foundations.
Wisdom – People can know many things and still act foolishly. There are several verses in the Bible that discuss the relationship between knowledge and wisdom. The difference I think is that knowledge can be learned while wisdom needs to be earned. What I mean is that the knowledge we have needs to be implemented wisly (and through God's guidance). Wisdom is not necesarily dependent on age - I know some 20 year old young adults who are wiser than some grown man.
Experience – This comes naturally as we grow, learn and become wiser. There will be everyday small and sometimes big experiences that can help you to learn more about God. Both (big or small) can be of great significance. (Like a small question of a boy can start to trigger substantial questions.)
3. How do I respond now to others?
Share your story: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1Peter 3:15
Speak with your life - I once heard the saying from St Francis as he was commissioning his disciples to go out into the world to convert people to Christianity, “Go and preach the Gospel. Where necessary use words” (Kalungu-Banda,M 2006, "Leading like Madiba", Cape Town: Double Storey). Meaning we should not use our verbal ability rather our LIVES should speak of God’s abundant, unconditional love for everyone of us.
Always – Have you ever realised that often in very inconvenient moments you receive an opportunity to talk about God, Christianity, Spirituality and serious life questions? Are you prepared to stop from your daily business not to miss out on such an opportunity? We should strive to have a continous readiness and a willing attitude.
Gentleness & respect – Obviously there are also ways how to and how not to share God’s love with others. After all you want to share His LOVE, therefore do it with respect and gentleness towards the other person.
4. What can I do concerning others?
Help and invite others: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
That might sound easy to help, encourage, support, invite, visit, and continue with it (don’t stop doing it!). This can be difficult as some people you want to help might be in serious trouble and deep need. Furthermore, the focus in today’s society is much more on myself (how I can help myself).
I want to finish this short article with some reflective questions:
- Am I a child of God? Do I live like I am God's child? How does a Child of God look's like anyway?
- What do I do to learn more about God, Jesus and the Church? In what ways can I educate myself? Are there creative way's to learn more about God?
- What do I think about others who reject God? Do I reflect Christ in my daily life? Am I respectful towards others?
- Am I willing to help, especially when it is inconvenient for me? How can I support people around me? Is it possible not to loos my passion for Christ? How can I endure and make sure that I will not stop loving God?