“And so what can we learn from Daniel about how God wants us to live?” And as I said those words it was as if I had literally laid a huge load on that little girl. Like I broke some spell. She crumpled right in front of me, physically slumping and bowing her head. I will never forget it.
When I go into churches and speak to children I ask them two questions:
First, How many people here sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you? They tentatively raise their hands. I raise my hand along with them.
And second, How many people here sometimes think that if you aren’t good, God will stop loving you? They look around and again raise their hands.
These are children in Sunday schools who know the Bible stories and probably all the right answers, and yet they have somehow missed the most important thing of all.
They have missed what the Bible is all about.
They are children like I once was.
As a child, even though I was a Christian, I grew up thinking the Bible was filled with rules you had to keep (or God wouldn’t love you) and with heroes setting examples you had to follow (or God wouldn’t love you).
I tried to be good. I really did. I was quite good at being good. But however hard I tried, I couldn’t keep the rules all the times so I knew God must not be pleased with me.
And I certainly couldn’t ever be as brave as Daniel. I remember being tormented by that Sunday school chorus “Dare to Be a Daniel” because, hard as I tried to imagine myself daring to be a Daniel, being thrown to lions and not minding . . . who was I kidding? I knew I’d be terrified out of my skull.
How could God ever love me?
I was sure he couldn’t because I wasn’t doing it right.