“And the soldiers likewise demanded of him (John), saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14).
How does one teach children about such a topic to encourage them to refuse to see or listen to violence? They have been saturated with “beat-‘em-up,” “bang-‘em-up” comics and superheroes since they were old enough to sit alone in front of a TV. Whether church-going Bible school children know it or not, they actually have been blessed with teaching that few others today are able to hear. At least they have choices on a daily basis, whether or not they comprehend these as options.
Let’s pray the Lord will be merciful and grant them not only understanding but also submission to the Scriptures and willing submission at that!
One young Bible class teacher was bemoaning the fact that her particular lesson topic might fall on deaf ears with a younger batch of kids, but her subject matter was “Thou shall not kill…” (Exo. 20:13). I cannot remember precisely what scriptures she had gathered, but here are some of the sequential connections she was making:
- Thou shall not kill (Exo. 20:13). Connected to holiness, as every other OT command.
- Blood defiles the land (Num. 35:33-34). Because God dwelt among them he told them not to defile the land with blood.
- Isaiah spoke of their hands being full of blood so that all of their services were an abomination to him (Isa. 1:15).
In Matthew 15:11-20, if we defile ourselves with our thoughts, can our sacrifices be acceptable to him? Violence is one of the things that can defile our thoughts. Not only should we not do violence, we should not love it or we will be an abomination to God.
- “A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good” (Pro. 16:29).
- “The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth” (Psa. 11:5).
- “By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire” (Eze. 28:16).
Then Isaiah 33:15-17 comes in.
He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly;
he that despiseth the gain of oppressions,
that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes,
that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood,
and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
He shall dwell on high:
his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks:
bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty:
they shall behold the land that is very far off.
The young teacher was considering trying to mention this sequence to the kids: not only not DOING violence, but stopping their eyes and ears from hearing and seeing it. Then she wanted to make the connection to the kids pointedly that television and video games, which erode their horror at violence and mistreatment of others, can ruin their ability to love. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor” (Romans 13:10). Violence is ill. Video games and TV exercise our hearts in violence, hate, and thus murder.
She asked my opinion about whether she should bring in that point, knowing that it will likely be ignored. I told her I thought she ought to teach truth, and whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, she should speak what they need to hear—just do it in meekness. That is when she and I discussed the difference between children of today and children in times past. It could be the difference in Jeremiah’s audience and the audience in Acts 2, but the Word should still be spoken. Obviously she does not have to dwell on specific examples from today, but it can’t hurt to mention briefly.