One of the best parts of my job is meeting with kids when they want to get baptized. We make it a date, complete with a special meal (usually a milkshake and French fries). My first question: “Why do you want to be baptized?”
I love Jesus. I want Him to live in my heart. My friend did it and it looked like fun. ‘Cause I don’t want to be in trouble with God. I want to go to heaven. I want to show everybody that I follow Jesus. I want the Holy Spirit to talk to me. I want to hear God.
The beauty of these moments is overwhelming. We get to wiggle through wonky theology and move to the heart. The heart of God and the heart of a kid come together in a divine intersection, and the truth of His great love erupts in mysterious wonder. He wants to gush over them, be with them, make a home in their heart, and they want it too!
Children don’t want Bible knowledge for the sake of knowledge. They want Jesus. They want to hear His voice, feel his presence and be with Him. Children (all of us, really) want to know He is real. We want to experience his realness.
It’s easy to read a Bible story before bed. Or post scripture around the house on sticky notes. Say the blessing and sing Jesus Loves Me. But how do we nurture an active relationship with our child and the creator of the universe? To start, we need to have one. (I mean that in the nicest possible way.)
Relationships take time and they all look different. They need both talking and listening, giving and receiving. We ask questions and we learn about each other as we are together. The togetherness is key — that's where the knowing happens. Knowing you're loved and you love back. It's in the knowing that we discover likes and dislikes, pleasure and pain, joy and sadness, disappoint and celebration. We get to share our stories.
Same goes in our relationship with Jesus.
A few tips to get started
- Spend time getting to know Jesus. He’s written a book where He tells a lot about himself.
- Ask Him questions. And then stop talking so you can hear His answers. Hint: You can write them down to remember what has happened. Friends like it when you remember stuff.
- Tell Him how awesome he is. Everyone loves compliments and He actually deserves them.
- He loves music about Himself. Angels fill His home with it. And the bonus, it heals our hurts.
- Hang out together in the places you love. He gets excited when you show him your favorite things and introduce Him to your other friends.
- Give up your own experience sometimes to take care of His other children, especially the ones others overlook.
- Listen when He says he loves you. And then, listen some more.