I was witness to an amazing children’s illustration one Sunday that went hilariously wrong. The woman was trying to make the point through the use of keys that the only key into heaven was Jesus. She dangled her keys and asked what they allowed her to get into. One child said “house” and another said “car.” The program seemed to be running smoothly with the children all on board. Then she tried to make the shift to the spiritual lesson asking, “How do we get into heaven?” There was a short pause as the children pondered this. Then the hand of a small boy shot up and he confidently announced the obvious, “We have to die!”
The woman was disconcerted at this morbid turn of events, but it was too late. The children’s minds were fixated on this barrier to getting to heaven and how it should be overcome. Another boy’s hand went up and the woman quickly turned to him, “Yes, how can we get to heaven?” He said in a rather solemn tone, “God has to call us.” The woman looked a little desperately at the other children and the boy repeated it a little more loudly since he hadn’t received the affirmation expected, “God has to call us to heaven!” She tried to rephrase her question, “What do we have to do to get to heaven?” The kids stared at her, their minds whirling at this twist to the question. She tried to help them out, “We need to trust in J-J-J…” Her hope of salvaging the lesson were raised by a girl who waved her hand, but then immediately dashed when the girl said, “Well, if we were to stop eating and got weaker and weaker, then we could die and go to heaven.”
The woman finally talked about “accepting Jesus into our hearts,” but I’m sure that the children left confident that the boy’s first comment about having to die was the point of the lesson. But maybe that was a healthier perspective than leaving them with the impression that the primary point of Jesus’ work is to provide a free ticket to an eternal Disneyland.