This Beatitude, as recorded in Matthew 5, was our topic of study for Kids Club last night. In order to engage the kids in a lesson on the meaning of mercy, I took them on a sensory journey through the story when Jesus heals the blind beggar in Luke 18. The man is completely blind, unable to see, and is reliant upon Jesus to do for him what he cannot do for himself- restore his sight.
That is the essence of mercy: God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
God, in his mercy, withholds the wrath that we deserve to receive for our wrongs, and instead pays for those wrongs himself, by sending his Son Jesus Christ to die on our behalf. This is mercy at its best!
To draw the kids into the story and give them an appreciation for their own physical sight, I blindfolded each of them and took them through a series of tests where they had to use their remaining four senses to discern and identify various objects, smells, sounds, textures, etc. You know, the usual: vinegar was used to test smell, salt for taste, animal noises for sound and good old “goop” for touch (cornstarch and water).
Naturally, some children were apprehensive about what they might encounter that they could neither see nor control. That was precisely the point. Life can be quite frightening and dangerous for the blind, for they are literally at the “mercy” of others to do for them what they cannot do for themselves. (We witnessed that when working with children and adults at the Mango Tree Centre in Tonga.) Likewise, life is scary and treacherous for the spiritually blind, those who do not have the illumination of God’s Holy Spirit within them to warm them of approaching temptations and light a pathway of escape. Every single human being born on this planet is at God’s mercy and must make the choice to accept his mercy as an act of grace. (Amazing how mercy and grace go together, eh?)
Anyway, as we carried on with our story and discussion on mercy, something that was said triggered insatiable curiosity in the minds of many of the youngins. What was originally intended to be a 15 minute portion of our overall lesson, turned into a 40 minute deep theological discussion! No joke! The kids started asking very pointed questions about heaven, hell, baptism, other religions. . . you name it! I dare say we covered most of the Articles of Faith and the Apostle’s Creed in 40 minutes!
I couldn’t dare end the lesson without giving each child the opportunity to say “yes” to Jesus and invite him into his/her life. One seven-year old boy did just that! He decided he wanted God in his life; he wanted this mercy, and he wanted to follow Jesus! We prayed together a prayer of confession and commitment and this little boy is now a child of the One True King! Next week we will secure a Bible for him and continue to disciple him and help him to grow in his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.
What a gift it is to work with the kids of Whangarei.
And in this instance . . blindness can be a blessing!
(I didn't take any photos last night, so have included a few from the past few months.)