We were gathered around the table, the minister, the small youth group, and I. We were preparing food together to eat later and I was loving being part of that with them. There were tortilla pinwheels, pigs in a blanket, snicker doodles, and a couple of cheese logs for crackers. It was a perfect moment for Why Time.
“Hey guys, I need your help.” I began. “I’m helping with a project called Why Time and it’s a blog for answering any question about God or Church or questions kids have. Maybe you’ve heard or read something that got you to thinking and you’re a little bit stuck about it.” Everyone was quiet. I could tell each one had a thought and was waiting to see who would go first. “I may not have your answer right now, but I know where to find answers. I just need some questions for my project. Could you guys help me?”
Immediately, the bravest one of the bunch, one whose company always makes me smile, said, “Yeah, I have a question.”
“I’m glad…I need the help,” I encouraged.
“How do we know our God is better than the Greek gods?”
“That’s a really good–and important–question. I’m glad you asked. Can I ask you for a little more information?”
“OK,” he said warily.
“Oh, don’t worry, I just need a little help. I haven’t been to school in a long time. Could you tell me about some of the Greek gods: their names and what they were supposed to do?”
“Well, there’s Zeus, he’s god of the sky. And Poseidon, he’s god of the sea. Hades is god of the underworld, and Aphrodite is the goddess of love…” He stopped to see if he’d done well.
“OK. So, each one was supposed to be in charge of some part of the world, am I right?”
“Yeah. And there’s a bunch more.”
“You know I just remembered something!” He leaned forward. I noticed the other kids were watching and listening. The work had slowed. “I just remembered that the Apostle Paul actually got to go to Athens, Greece! He got to see all the statues of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades and Aphrodite and the others. In fact, do you know what he said about them?” Every set of eyes was glued on me now. They seemed shocked that Paul knew about the Greek gods, too!
“Well, Paul told them how he’d noticed they had a different god for everything; sky, water, underworld, love, mothers, farming, music and art…everything. Then he said, ‘I want to tell you about the God who MADE the sky AND water AND the underworld, mothers, plants and animals, music and art!’ That’s our God.”
Immediately I saw my audience relax and say, “Yeah! God made everything! Those gods just had power over one thing and not everything.”
“You’re right! In fact, what did God do with water?” Their enthusiasm was the height of this teachable moment.
“He made it?” one said. “He walked on it!” said another. “He parted the Red Sea!”
“Yes! Exactly! What about fire?”
Now they were getting excited…trying to beat each other to my attention.
“He burned up the rocks and water that time!” “He burned in that bush Moses saw!” “He made a pillar of fire for the Israelites!”
“Yes!” I said. Then I lowered my voice and said mysteriously, “And he made a place called Hades…a kind of waiting place for after people die until Jesus comes to pick them up. So Hades is a place God made…not a Greek statue.” There was silence. “So, what do you think? Is our God better and stronger than the Greek gods?”
“And guys, there’s one other thing that makes our God better. Nobody in Athens ever saw any of their gods DO anything. They just saw statues and heard stories. But our God turned Himself into a human and lived here. They saw Him walk on water. They saw Him raise the dead. In fact, they saw Him heal a couple of people from miles away! He was REAL. The Greek gods weren’t. They were more like superheroes. They were exciting, but not real.”
The food was about ready now, so the chatter renewed while we cleared the clutter and prepared to eat. I whispered a prayer of thanks for the Holy Spirit’s prompting about Paul.
“Hey, Mrs. Anne.” The youngest of the group, a seven year old, stood beside me. “Isn’t Jesus a superhero?”
“Wow! That’s a great question, too! I’m going to go find the answer for you. Can I tell you what I find out next time? It’s about time for us to have our devotional.”
“OK.” He smiled, so proud that a grownup thought he’d asked an important thing.
“OK,” I said smiling and ruffling his hair. I think I know how he could be confused.