As I mentioned before, kids at this stage are transitioning from being concrete thinkers to becoming capable of more abstract thought but they still need bridges to get there. The bridge for this week is one of my favorites, and one that I borrowed from a favorite teacher from my junior high years.
At this point, I'm actually surprised how upset some of the kids can become. This last time I did it, my younger son was in the class and he groaned, "I really liked that plate!" This is only a minuscule glimmer of the grief God may have experienced when he saw us shattered. We, like this plate, were created to serve a purpose. And we, too, have been shattered, no longer able to serve our purpose. I ask the kids if they can help me put the plate back together. We try, but eventually, we give up. We cannot fix the plate. The plate cannot fix itself. It needs to be remade.
From here, I begin to talk about our original purpose. We go back to Genesis 1:26-28. We were made in God's image, as eikons, to be his fruitful vice-regents. We were created to 'image' God, the One who creates, rules, speaks, names, orders, establishes variety and beauty, tends the earth, provides fellowship, instructs, and rests. We are to be in union with God, in communion with other eikons, for the purpose of participating in God's good and loving rule of the world. We were designed for relationship with God, with one another, and with the world He made. The mission statement at Life on the Vine is "Living in Christ, with one another, for God's mission in the world." As eikons, this is what we were designed to do.
But we were broken. And in our brokenness, we are bound to sin and cannot break free (Remans 7 again). And we are blamed for our sin (Romans 1 and 3). We are like this shattered plate, hopelessly unable to fix ourselves or to fulfill our purpose. But there is good news. Jesus Christ is the perfect Eikon (Colossians 1:15) and as we turn from our own attempts to fix ourselves and turn toward Jesus Christ, trusting in him and his work, we can be restored to our original purpose. "The goal of the atonement is to restore cracked eikons into glory-producing eikons by participating in the perfect Eikon, Jesus Christ, who is redeeming the entire world" (Scot McKnight, A Community Called Atonement).
In Christ, we are no longer broken, bound, and blamed. Instead, we are fixed, free, and forgiven! The challenge is to begin to recognize our brokenness, our bondage, and our shame and give up our futile attempts to piece ourselves back together. Instead, we turn to Jesus, receiving his fixing restoration, freedom and forgiveness. I challenge the kids and their parents to be attentive to ways they get tangled in their own attempts to make things right and challenge them to remind each other that only Jesus can fix, free, and forgive.
Throughout this journey toward Jesus, I remind the parents that they are the primary disciplers of their children and that their children need to hear their stories. I challenge parents to tell their kids about ways they have experienced the brokenness, bondage, and shame (blame) of sin and how they have turned to Jesus for restoration (fixing), freedom and forgiveness. Honest, authentic stories of walking in obedience daily are absolutely essential for these kids as they prepare to meet their own failures and turn to Jesus for restoration.
Next post: Beginning to tell their own story of conversion.