Friday, October 19, 2012

The Sermon on the Mount for 8 Year Olds

A brief respite between cognitive distortions.

While preparing my Sunday lesson it occurred to me that it might be helpful for me as I went about that to synopsize the Sermon on the Mount in a more accessible vocabulary.  So I did.  Here's the first draft for the first chapter, Matthew 5, starting with verse 16:

When you know a good and right way to live, live that way. That helps other people to see goodness and recognize the goodness of God.

You may get angry sometimes and that anger may make you want to do stupid or bad things. Anger can cause you to make very bad choices  Be very wise.  Be sure your reasons for anger are good ones.  And no matter how much anger you feel, do good things because of it, not bad things. And certainly do not ever let your anger cause you to put down other people, no matter who they are.

Just don't make fun of other people, period.

So...instead....when you have a disagreement with someone or you are mad at them, work hard to find a solution that works for both of you.  Working on that will make it much easier for you to hear and understand God's words when you worship at church.

Keep your thoughts focused on what is good, not on what feels exciting and pleasurable, because your thoughts are important as well as your actions.


Speak the truth plainly.

Don't swear.

Don't try to make things right by getting even.

When someone makes you give away something or to do extra work, be nice about it and generous too.

Love your neighbor.

Love your enemy.

Be good to people even if they are nasty to you.

Pray for people who are mean.

Do your good deeds quietly. Don't feel like you need to get other people to praise you for doing good things.

Pray privately.

When you pray, say what you think and be respectful.

Be thankful.

Ask Heavenly Father for help and for forgiveness and for the things you need.

Forgive others.

When you fast, don't complain and groan about it.

Be focused on being and doing good, not on getting stuff.

See life clearly and recognize goodness.

Put God ahead of money in your heart.

Be merciful.

Don't judge unkindly.

Worry about your own sins, not other people's sins.

Treat sacred things with respect and share them wisely and with wise restraint.

When you need God's help, ask for it, seek it. You will find it.

Treat others the way you like to be treated.

Seek to live the way God wants you to live and to do what he wants you to do. Doing that leads to eternal life.

Watch what happens when other people make choices and do stuff. That will help you to tell whether or not they are honest and true and good and whether or not their ideas can be trusted.

Be sure that when you are doing something in Jesus' name that it really is what he wants you to be doing.

When you learn Jesus' teachings don't just listen to them, actually do what he teaches.


Susan said...

I like this! The one interpretation I would take issue with is "don't get angry at other people." I'm of the philosophy that putting ethical judgements on spontaneous feelings (especially with kids) is usually counterproductive and even damaging, but teaching kids (and adults) that there are ethical and unethical (or simply positive and hurtful) ways to DEAL with those feelings is important.

In the Sermon on the Mount the reference is to anger "without a cause." To me this seems to refer to the state of being angry in general or in reference to an unrelated problem, and taking it out on people unfairly. It's the taking it out on people (reference to Raca and "thou fool") that confines a person to a life of misery. What do you think?

MB said...

Good points.
I also noticed, going back over the text, that it's "whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" which sounds like a warning that being angry is something that can *lead* to serious trouble if you are not careful.

So, how to rewrite that in 8 year old language?

How about this...You may get angry sometimes and that may make you want to do stupid things. Be very wise. Be sure your reasons for anger are good ones. And no matter how angry you feel, do good things because of it, not bad things. And certainly do not ever use it to put down or hurt other people.

Does that cover it? Is there something else I should do with it?

Jim said...

I like what you have done with this. For me, I've heard and read these words so many times over the years that the temptation is to simply gloss over them again, as though I know them so well that there's nothing more for me to glean. If I were teaching this lesson to a young primary class, I doubt that I would have given this such thoughtful preparation.

Making the effort as you have done to consider the meaning and intent of each word is a valuable exercise, I think. This is a good reminder to me that I need to more fully immerse myself in the scriptures.

Snowy Mornings said...

Kind of you to say so, Jim. I originally just set out to try to help myself be able to capture and explain the things that Jesus had said in a way that my students would understand. The process definitely turned out to be very helpful in my own evaluation of how I am living my own life and what I personally need to be more aware of in my pursuit of discipleship of Jesus.