QUESTIONS CHILDREN MAY ASK
(and how I may answer them…)
by Reverend Preben Andersen
Back in December last year I was approached by a primary school teacher who asked me for assistance with a report on the questions that children sometimes ask about Godly ‘things’ and I submitted the following to him.
What I suggested is not in any way full answers to anything, they are my personal views, but I hope that by making them public they may be helpful to others, not just RE teachers but also children and young people coming across our websites, and of course their parents. We live in difficult times where often religion has a hard time. Nothing new there, but still I believe firmly that we were all created with a spiritual dimension, and that the crunch of the matter is how we allow this dimension to be developed in us, or not. If what I have written helps bring just one person nearer to God, then thanks be to Him, not me.
GENERAL QUESTIONS – AND PRIMARILY FOR ADULTS
Q: What do you think of questions in RE lessons?
A: If we are taking about a full dedicated RE lesson in the classroom as opposed to a 10 minute school assembly, I think questions should be welcomed. I remember being invited to take a full lesson quite recently on the subject of Methodism at my local junior school, and as it worked out, my presentation was 20 minutes, including a power point, and with 25 minutes of challenging questions arising from it.
Q: How can we find the answers to the children’s questions?
A: So much can be Googled these days – too much information available at times I think – but very often we just need to answer from the heart and on the spot, without taking or being given too much time to think! In fact, brain-storming sessions can be useful. To a question, why not answer with a rhetorical question, like, “Good question, but what do you think the answer is?” and then be prepared with a flipchart to write down the answers! This will also give you time to think as you listen to the children.
Q: Question and answer session?
A: Yes, in full lessons these are useful and to be recommended, but as mentioned above, start with a short presentation first, only leave plenty of time for Questions and Answers. School assemblies are different, as they tend to be much shorter, and I find in my experience that it is best to come prepared to tell or act out a Bible story and explain the meaning, then conclude with prayer time, and get the children to sing a song on the them you have introduced.
CHILDREN’S QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD
Q: Why is God important?
A: Believers see God as the Creator of everyone and everything, in the world and in the universe. No one can be more important or capable than that.
Q: How does God listen to our prayers? What is prayer?
A: God hears all our prayers, but because His time and our time can be very different things, and we get impatient but He is not, we sometimes have to wait for the answers, and when they come, they may not always be what we expect either! But that’s OK. Prayer is the language we use when we speak to God, and it involves both speaking and listening. We pray best if we finish our prayer by saying “in the name of Jesus, Amen”, meaning that we pray to God through Jesus His Son, by asking Jesus to make every word we say really important.
Q: Is Jesus God? Is God Jesus? Is God and Jesus the same person? Do God and Jesus share the same heart?
A: Yes. And yes. And yes. And again: yes! The Heart that God and Jesus share is what we often call the Holy Spirit. God and Jesus and Spirit are all one. A German theologian Hans Kung wrote this, which I like very much, “God the Father above us. God the Son beside us. God the Spirit within us.” One God, three different ‘forms’.
CHILDREN’S QUESTIONS ABOUT FAITH AND SPIRITUALITY
Q: What does it mean to be a Christian?
A: To be a Christian means to be a Follower of Christ (or Jesus), and this means doing the best we can to follow His example.
Q: Why do you believe in God/Jesus?
A: I didn’t always, but many people who did helped me on the way, and one day I really felt Him speaking to my heart because of how others had helped me to listen to Him.
Q: Why did God make bad people?
A: The greatest gift God gives us is Free Will. This means the ability to do what is right (and most of us do) but also, sadly, a very few do what is wrong. God could have decided to just make everything good, and Adam and Eve were to begin with, but we are not perfect, and sometimes God wants us to learn the hard way.
Q: Why did God not save the Jews in the concentration camps?
A: God was with everybody in that evil place too, and we have many examples of people who never gave up their faith and trust in God. You can say He did not save them from dying, we all have to die, BUT he saved them and prepared them for Heaven even in that awful place.
Q: Why does God allow people to suffer and die in the world?
A: This goes back to Free Will again. Until the time comes when everyone decides to do good, there will always be evil in the world as well. However, there is so much more good than bad, and there always was, only sometimes we cannot see it.
Q: What is life?
A: Life is what God gives us through His Holy Spirit. It’s what makes us breathe. And as Christians, we are promised life both here and now, on earth, but also and more important, life for evermore in heaven when we die. A different kind of life probably, but one where the Bible promises us that we will live forever with those who have already died.
CHILDREN’S QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS
Q: Does Jesus have every value?
A: Yes, including those values we do not even know about yet or have names for. This is why the Greeks spoke about Jesus as Alpha and Omega (the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet), the beginning and the end, the One who knows all and is all.
Q: Why did Jesus need disciples?
A: Well, perhaps he didn’t really? He could easily have done everything he did on his own, however, he knew that he would die on a Cross, and that for his work to continue until he returns, he needed a handful of people – or two handfuls – to teach, and who would be happy to follow him.
Q: Why did Jesus choose 12 disciples?
A: One representing each of the 12 tribes of Abraham.
Q: Who was the most important disciple?
A: Simon Peter (but he was not perfect!) None of them were, and none of us are either.
Q: The disciples’ most important job for Jesus?
A: Look at him, listen to him, learn from him, follow him, and eventually manage to do all the things he did, such as preaching, teaching and healing.
Q: Did Jesus like his disciples?
A: He absolutely loved every one of them, even the one – Judas – whom he knew was going to betray him to the Romans. He knew and loved him too. “Go and do what you have to do,” Jesus said to Judas, “but do it quickly.”
Q: Why did Jesus give up his life for us?
A: That is how much he loved us, and loves us still, each one of us, imperfect though we are.
Q: Why did Jesus die for us?
A: To take away all our sin on his own shoulders, although he himself was and is without sin.
Q: Why did the people want to kill Jesus if he was God?
A: The Jews were frightened. They were occupied by the Romans. They were expecting a King to come and release them. Jesus was not the kind of King they expected. He did everything so differently, so many were scared and confused, and some thought that by saving themselves and get rid of the false king as they saw him – Jesus – they might make room for the real one. Would you have felt the same in their shoes?
Q: Why did Judas betray Jesus?
A: Many Christians believe that this was in God’s plan. Judas had an important role to play for Jesus to be able to take away our sins, and remember, Jesus never tried to stop Judas.
Q: Wasn’t Jesus meant to die?
A: Yes, sadly for him, but necessary for us, Jesus had to die for our sins to be forgiven, but thankfully we all know that his death was not the end at all!
Q: If Judas hadn’t done it, would someone else?
A: I’d say yes. It had to be.
Q: Did Judas have courage?
A: In a strange kind of way, I guess you could say yes to that. I do not believe he wanted to do what he did, but it seemed God gave him no choice.
CHILDREN’S QUESTIONS ABOUT CREATION
Q: If God created the world around us, who or what created God?
A: The Bible tells us that in the beginning only God was. Not created, but always there, unlike anything and anyone else in the whole universe. Everything started with God.
Q: How did God build the universe?
A: This is the million pound question and I have to say pass. Only God knows.
Q: Why did God decide to make the world?
A: God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that those who believe in Him may never perish but have eternal life. God needed to create a place where His never-ending love could be expressed in people such as you and me. Incredible, I know, but true.
Q: Did God make everything, and is He real?
A: Yes. And yes, but God is very much Real in a Spiritual sense, which is why we talk about and can feel the Holy Spirit so much in our lives.
CHILDREN’S QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE
Q: Why do we have a Bible?
A: The Bible is the Book about Creation and People and Animals and Plants, everything that breathes life. It was written over many thousands of years by so many different people who were inspired by God and his Word to us and who could not keep it to themselves but needed to share. It is the most popular Book in the world and written in more languages than any other.
Q: Is the Bible true?
A: The Bible is the Word of God, but not by His hand directly. He spoke to the hearts of so many people over so many thousands of years who believed what they felt and wrote everything down for us today.
Q: Are the stories in the Bible real?
A: Many are. Many of the stories are poems. Some of what we read is history. A lot is about the prophets who heard God speak to them about Jesus long before he actually came to earth. All of it is from God to people who were open to receive and share.
Q: Are the people real?
A: Yes, as real as you and me.
Q: What is your favourite Bible story?
A: Mine is at the end of Luke’s Gospel – on the Road to Emmaus – when Jesus walks with two disciples, listens to them for a long while, then speaks the truth to them that He has come back to life, and finally shares in a meal with them in their house. It is a wonderful story about Jesus having come back to life. And the two disciples can hardly wait to rush back to Jerusalem to tell all the others what had happened. May we do the same! What a great world this would be if only we dared!
No copyright, just use – or improve – freely,
but please keep me posted.
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