...Ribeiro's wife prayed the rosary and told the children stories about holy people. It is possible that not all the stories were true, but children of that time were not concerned with the truth ... (... a mulher de seu Ribeiro rezava o terço e contava hisórias de santos às crianças. É possível que nem todas as histórias fossem verdadeiras, mas as crianças daquele tempo não se preocupavam com a verdade...) Quote from São Bernardo, a Brazilian novel by Graciliano Ramos, page 36 in the Editora Record's 1981 edition. First published in Rio De Janeiro, 1934.Before I go to bed at night I've been reading a couple novels that I still have from the time that I lived in Brazil back in the 1980s. Novels are interesting stories, and I learn a lot from them, but novels are not "true." Novels are stories, made up sometimes to make a point, and sometimes just for fun.
In any case, the sentence quoted above leapt out at me as I'm looking forward now to preaching on Easter. Easter, and by that I mean Jesus, risen from the dead--that is truth--literal, factual truth. Jesus actually did rise from the grave. And it is on his resurrection that I stake my life and my ministry and everything I am. And it is the resurrection of Jesus that makes the "difference" between Christianity and all other "faiths."
The fictional wife of "Mr. Ribeiro" in the book São Bernardo didn't understand this. It seems that she told "holy stories" to the children to make them feel good. Maybe she didn't know the difference between truth and "fun" stories. Or maybe she didn't care.
I believe it's good to make clear, even to children, that some stories are just "fun," some are true, and some stories are told to give us a lesson (like the prodigal son for example). You may not be sure as you tell the story, so just let them know you're not sure, and then check it out!
Some stories in scripture are clearly "parables," stories that teach lessons but didn't actually occur. Others are based upon actual events. I'm still not sure about some of them even after almost 30 years as a pastor. It's important to be honest with our kids and tell them this. That will be important as they grow.
Unfortunately there are many people today, and I'm not just speaking of children, who are not concerned with truth. There are many consider the question of "truth" to be unimportant! There are many who are much more concerned with speaking things that make them "feel good." There is even hesitation when it comes to clarifying what is truthful and what is not.
Adults and children need to know the truth. And the story of Jesus is TRUE. We'll share TRUTH at Crossroads on Sunday morning at 9:00. Come and celebrate the TRUTH, Jesus, risen from the dead. That truth that stands up to careful inquiry. Come and know that your faith stands strong..
It is the resurrection of Jesus that makes the "difference" between Christianity and all other "faiths." More about this on Sunday and, coming up in April and May, in a series of messages that we're calling "What's The Difference"?
The difference is truth! If the center of your faith is not true, it's based on a lie. And a lie will not stand, no matter how popular it may be, no matter how good it makes you feel. All faiths are not the same. Let's look carefully and discern the difference.
*Note - After a conversation on Maundy Thursday evening, and after spending some time in prayer, I've decided it would be good to switch up the focus for the upcoming series. Instead of focusing our Sunday messages on other "religions" we'll be looking at the difference between the Christian faith and the whole idea of "religion" in general. I've had a sense for a long time that such a series of messages would be important to do, and I believe this is the time to do it. Stay tuned and please be in prayer for protection and wisdom as we move into this important series.