"What does it say on your earrings?"
One of my charges asked me that question. I had her read them. "For God so loved the World.... Oh I know that verse"! John 3:16. The two girls quoted it for me. Now on to interpretaion. "Do you know what it means?", I asked. The two fumbled around for an answer. I recieve some semblance of what was originally probably a children's camp or VBS sermon. And that'is how it all got started.
The girl's mom called me today to talk work but also to talk about those 30mins of sharing the Gospel that I did with her girls. She was grateful. I told her the reactions of her daughters and some of what I had explained to them. How I tried to bring home the reality that we don't know how long we have left here in this world. I told her that we talked about what happens when God has brought you to Himself and you are ready to ask Him to be your savior. But there was one other thing in particular that I explained to her girls- the connection between sin and hell.
The girls had a solid churchy picture of sin but I knew that there was something not right. There was something they didn't understand. I found it the more we talked. They did not understand the connection between sin and hell. Oh yes, they knew that because of their sin they should go to hell. (although it was not their first answer) Maybe I shouldn't say that was what they were missing. It was more of WHY sin puts you in hell.
Why does sin send you to hell?*
"Because God doesn't like sin"
There is something missing in this understanding. Yes, God doesn't like sin but why!? That was what was missing. They didn't understand why God was displeased with sin. Displeased being a mild word. God hates sin!
"Why can't God just let sin go?"
They had no answer for that. Having missed the why, they didn't have a clue about this. It was time to explain what sin IS. It isn't just doing bad things. It is disobeying God. It is breaking His rules. (Looking back I don't think I did as good a job of this as I should have.) I explained how everyone is going to be judged. And because God is good He will not let us off the hook. I took the girls to a courtroom scene. Considering they are about 9 it took a bit more explaining that it might have with someone older. I told them how we will each be judged. We talked about how the judge would be bad to let a murderer go free and how because God is good He can't let us go unpunished. And so I plowed.
After talking to this mom and replaying again what happened that afternoon, I realized how often we leave out this important detail. (This is not to say that the girls had not been taught. They have.) We may quote 'for the wages of sin is death" but do we lay it out for them? Do we make it real to those to whom we are witnessing? I have counseled a number of children for salvation and talked to some that say they have been saved but I cannot remember any one (besides my siblings) of them who would tell me that their sin was breaking God's law. I don't expect a child to give me a deep theological answer but I know my sister understood that it was because God has to punish sin that she was going to go to hell if she did not repent. And she could tell you!