This Lenten season, as we are looking closely at a Portrait of Jesus, I have challenged the elementary kids to memorize Philippians 2:5-11. Here it is if you have not seen the card your child came home with:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
This may seem really long to memorize, to you, but I find that it is a really rich description of Jesus. Each we week, we are “unpacking” different parts of this passage and helping the kids see something about Jesus that I feel is very important for us to know. They are spending time drawing and/or writing down these ideas in a Portrait of Jesus journal that they will bring home on April 15.
They have learned that Jesus thinks it is important that our attitude, our actions toward others, what we’re thinking and doing should always show that we are thinking like Jesus (verse 5). We learned that Jesus if fully God (verse 6) and that anything we know about God we can know about Jesus! We also learned that Jesus if fully man (verse 7) and that His body grew like our body does. We’ll continue working our way through this passage and learn that Jesus was a servant and came to help others-not Himself; He was humble; and He was definitely obedient. Which means He loved us so much, He went to the cross and died for us. We will celebrate on Easter Sunday that He is ALIVE and residing in Heaven-and that He is our Lord! But we won’t stop there, on April 15, we’ll also learn that Jesus didn’t leave us alone: He promised us the Holy Spirit (found in John 14:15-21).
So you may ask, if they are hearing the stories, drawing pictures, writing about these things, isn’t that enough? Why memorize every word? The Bible tells us that God wanted us to write things like His law, love and faithfulness on our mind and our heart. We can find this is the Old Testament and the New Testament; we read it in Proverbs and Jeremiah and in Hebrews.
Most of what our kids learn is by what they hear others say and watch what others do. And who are they watching and listening to? Parents, their small group leaders, their teachers, their friends, their friends’ friends, Nickelodeon, Walt Disney, Spongebob, etc. Lots of images and lots of words.
But when our kids are in bed at night, or facing a challenge, or thinking about who they are, or trying to help a friend, we want them to have the right images and words in their viewfinder. So as you help your child memorize these words, speak them out loud with them, act them out with them, ask what they think about this stuff and how it makes them feel that God loves them so much that He gives us Jesus.
But more importantly, through this, they can learn that God’s Word is beyond drawings and warm fuzzies: God’s Word is the Truth. If God’s Word is in our mind and our heart, then we are more than likely able to live like we know that.
Which brings us back full circle to verse 5. Having the “mindset” of Christ is just one reason to know Scripture in our minds and our hearts. We’ll get to the others…