For much of my life I thought of Genesis as the perfect book for children. It was great narrative and seemed to have such simple yet impactful stories. And I guess that could be true. But what do you do with Cain and Abel, the carnage of death from the flood, and countless stories of wickedness, sexual exploits, and outright defiance.
It is one of those thoughts that I have heard other preachers mention. It is one of those thoughts that I thought, yeah that's right, but its scripture and needs to be taught. Then I began to teach 3 year olds through 4th grade the story of Cain and Abel. As I read in my adult Bible I began to try to edit the text so it wouldn't be so PG-13 or really R.
"Adam made love to his wife Eve..." (NIV) -Oh Boy!
Do I really want to open up that topic for 3 year olds, when 4th graders are in the room. The answer is no, btw!
"“Let’s go out to the field." While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him." (NIV) -ok I think we can handle that
Then this: "The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. (NIV) -the 2nd through 4th grade boys will love this, but do I really want this to be a focus or a distraction to the story?
And this was just being able to read the scripture. This doesn't even cover the difficulty of talking about anger, murder, grace, mercy, offering, or exile.
We made it through the story that night and the children had great and insightful things to share in our circle. But I was reminded once again that these cute, flannel graph stories I grew up with are really a heavy dose of reality of what it means to live in a world of brokenness and darkness, yet chasing after God's heart and trusting in his final perfection when all things will be set right.
If you haven't done this in a while, I challenge you to read Genesis again. Look for the things you haven't seen before. Think about how you would explain this to a 3 year old child or an 80 year old dedicated follower. The word of God has layers that all move us to looking more intently upon Him and find how our own story intersects with those who have come before us.