1 Peter 2:11 "Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles, to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
"Dad, I know exactly what I want to do for my birthday party". (Our eldest son goes on to explain his plans. His birthday is in January... it's the beginning of August.)
So I say... "What if we go to be with Jesus tomorrow, and never make it to your birthday?"
Child: Well then I will try to convince God to let me have my birthday party in heaven.
Another Child: I don't think that you'll be able to watch The Hobbit in heaven. (This apparently is part of the birthday party plan)
My Wife, Candy: I don't think you'll really want to.
Still Another Child: Will I be able to run really fast in Heaven?
Yet Another Child: Why would you want to run when you're going to be able to fly?!
And Still Another, eyes gleaming with excitement: When I get to heaven, I'm going to the store to buy turbo boosters!
Lots of laughter around the table
"Daddy, what's on top of outer space?"
I love children! There's nothing quite so endearing to me as a conversation with a 6 year old about God. But as hilarious as that episode around the table was for us, I noticed something in all that talk that concerned me just a little; the substance of heaven, the draw and the hope of it, revolved around temporal things. We had movies, parties, and turbo boosters along with the ability to fly... but no God. Now I understand that we're talking about children here, children with the full package of unbridled imagination and innocent wonder and as such I don't expect a theological exposition on the heaven revealed to us in scripture after which, with hands folded smartly in his lap, our 3 year old would bow his head and say, "Now, let us pray", but this whole exchange begs the question, what are we teaching our children about God and the after-life? What kind of hope are our children carrying? Better yet, what kind of hope are our children seeing us hold out for? If it remains turbo boosters and space flight, then I think we're missing the point. Are we as parents seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, or are we zeroed in on material things and the cares of this life?
Almost daily I'm faced with the reality that my kids are going to value the same things I do, and that only a small fraction of that will be communicated to them with words. The better part of it they'll learn simply by watching what I spend my time doing. Now, I like a good movie as much as the next guy, and if I'm going to be honest I think attaching turbo boosters to an immortal, invincible body would be super cool! I just think that if Candy and I can communicate through our lives more than our words that God's Kingdom and righteousness are our primary pursuit, then we will have given our kids something to which The Hobbit pales in comparison; a real hope that will follow them through life, and finally find it's fulfillment when they meet Jesus face to face.