One of my favorite things about summer is when my church begins to get ready for vacation Bible school. It’s something everyone comes together for to create a week-long experience for over one-hundred children. I always sign up for the drama—a play that my friends and I put on for the kids that illustrates, through a story, what everyone has been learning in the Bible lessons. In the drama I always love to be the happy character, the one that makes the kids laugh and who they want to root for.
But this year for the first time, I got assigned the part of the villain.
I was disappointed with my part. It was difficult to pretend to be evil; to lie, to say cruel things, even though it was all an act.
As I was telling my mother this, she pointed out something I hadn’t considered.
“By being the bad guy, you’re helping the kids,” she said. “By illustrating evil, you’re showing them how bad it really is as opposed to good.”
I didn’t want to believe her. Bad is bad, I told myself.
I was right. Bad is bad, without excuse, but I wasn’t seeing the whole picture.
As I continued to consider my mother’s words, I realized that she was right. I was being given a great opportunity. If I played my part well, I was being given the opportunity to show these children how evil sin really is. I was setting them up to recognize and flee from it; and that was a unique job toward a good end.
We can’t lie to the youth in our lives. The world isn’t a happy, contented place made out of glitter and gold. Because of sin, it doesn’t just hold joy, it’s a broken place full of pain, sorrow, and people who are lost. There comes a time in a child’s life when they’ll have to know and feel the weight of the world, no matter how well we’ve shielded and protected them.
Innocence is a beautiful thing, but it won’t last forever.
They’ll have to know someday.
So in the meantime, let’s teach them to fight against the darkness.
Too often, today’s society pushes stories and movies where it turns out the bad guy has only been misunderstood, that they were only lonely and trying to make friends. This watered down version of evil can deceive a childish heart into a tolerance for evil. We want stories where good prevails. We want stories where evil is recognized and beaten back. We want stories that tell the truth; that in the end, evil will never win.
Those are the stories that give us hope and reinforce what God’s Word says.
Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and there are some people in the world who are fighting to hurt the people who hold the truth. Stories that illustrate this are helping us learn who those people are, and why. When we read our children stories that honestly portray evil but contrast it with the beauty of the light, we are doing them a favor.
No, you don’t have to read your child something intense, dark, and super scary. You don’t need to intentionally terrify them. You need only to tell them the truth, that, “Yes, the world is broken. These things are real. But because of Christ, this world is still beautiful. This darkness that hangs over us now will be gone someday.”
It’s important that we teach our children what sin and evil is so that when they grow up and come to face it themselves they’ll be able to see what it for what it really is.
By honestly illustrating evil, we can elevate the truth and teach the next generation to fight against it.
Featured image by macrovector