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October 17, 2013 / BTM

When Are Enemies Useful?

If the Bible is to be our guidebook, then we need to be 100% certain that what it says is trustworthy.  We’ve spent some time teaching our kids that they can trust the Bible’s eyewitnesses and know for certain that the message of the Bible has not changed over time.  I’ve been blogging on the activities that developed out of this effort for some time now.

There’s something else contained within the Bible’s text that is really compelling to its credibility: the presence of enemies.  Jesus’ miracles and teaching were done in the presence of enemies.  Enemies would have silenced any misrepresentation the disciples might have tried to invent about Jesus.  Enemies would have made sure to tell everyone that it wasn’t true.

But better than this is the fact that two of Jesus’ enemies actually changed their minds to become followers of His after His resurrection: James (the brother of Jesus) and Paul.

Neither James nor Paul believed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah during His lifetime.  However, when Jesus  appeared to both of them after He had risen from the dead, they were convinced.  Both became leaders in the early church – James among the Jewish converts and Paul among the Gentiles.  Both were martyred for their unwavering faith in Jesus.  The change of heart of James and Paul is a powerful testimony that Jesus really did rise from the dead: they had no reason to change their opinion of Jesus outside of having seen Him miraculously risen.

Concept being taught:

The testimony of an enemy-turned-friend is a powerful testimony of the truth of the gospel claims.

Activity:

What we did to pass this idea on to our kids was not an activity, per se, but a discussion that we had with them over dinner.

We had our kids imagine that they were superheros (something that they love to do).  We asked them to imagine that a ‘bad superhero’ wanted them to join the ‘bad superhero team’.

We asked: “What would it take to make you join the bad superhero team?”  (Their answer: Nothing, I won’t ever join the bad team).

“Why?”  (Answer: because I don’t want to be bad).

“What if you found out that you thought you were being a good superhero, but you were really on the wrong team all along; you had actually always been a bad superhero?”

Link to the Bible:

We told them an abbreviated version of Paul’s conversion story.  We then asked them a series of questions:

“Paul thought he was being a good ‘superhero’ for God.  What made him realize that he was really on the bad team?” (Answer: Jesus appeared to him and told him.)

“How do you think Paul felt when he realized that he was working on the ‘bad team’, when all along he thought he was working on the ‘good team’?”

“What would it be like to join the other team – the ones you had been fighting against all along?”

“What do you think your old friends would say?  Would it be hard?  If you were the leader of the bad superheros and changed to the good superhero team, do you think it would make other people wonder if they should change teams too?”

All this gave us a lot of food for thought.  The fact that Paul turned from persecuting Christians to becoming a leader in the church shows us that He was very certain that the message of Christianity was true.  He spent the rest of his life trying to convince others to become Christians as well.  It can and should give us a lot of confidence in the gospel message.

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