(August 9, 1989)
“Grandma, what’s that?”
“It’s a “what’s it.”
“What’s a what’s it?”
Five strands of colored yarn knotted at one end and pinned to my shirt prompted this conversation. I wore my “what’s it” so I could explain God’s good news to my five-year-old grandson. He’d never heard it before. As we discussed profound truth in simple terms, I realized it is easy amid the complications of adult life, to forget that the gospel is really so very simple. The colored yarn tells the story:
GOLD: stands for streets of gold in heaven. Of course, heaven is where God lives, and everything is perfect there because God is perfect. (See Revelation 21:21) But, of all the perfect things that might be in heaven, there is at least one thing that God will not allow there...
BLACK: represents sin. Sin is a word for all the bad in us that comes out in mean thoughts, ugly words, and things we do. Everyone sins. I do. You do. Everyone. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that sin will keep us from knowing and loving God and from going to heaven when we die. (See 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 and Revelation 22:15 and 21:8)
RED: stands for blood. God said that sinners must be punished but He loved us so much that He sent His Son, who never sinned, to die for our sins. When Jesus claimed to be God’s Son, it made some men angry so they nailed Him to a wooden cross. Then He died, shedding His blood for us. He was buried in a cave. But Jesus didn’t stay there. After three days, He rose from the dead. He has power to conquer death.
Several days later, while His friends watched, He rose up from the earth and went to be with His heavenly Father. He said He would someday return, and take all who believe in Him back to heaven. (John 1:12 and 14:1-3)
WHITE: Sinners need to be made clean from their sin before they can go to heaven with Jesus. He shed His blood so we could be washed “whiter than snow” and made fit to be with God. When we put our trust in Him and ask Him to forgive our sin, He promises to come and live in our hearts (not the organ that pumps blood but the real person). Then our hearts are washed clean in God’s sight.
GREEN: After we become cleansed from sin, God wants us to grow, not taller or fatter but “gooder” -- more like Jesus. We read our Bible, pray, and do what God asks us to do. As we do our part, He keeps on changing us and helps us have victory over sin. That means that even though temptation will come, Jesus will give us the strength we need to say “no” to it, and “yes” to what is right.
This little five-year-old admitted right away that he did bad things. He also said, “It is hard to be good but so easy to be bad.” Isn’t it true? The downward trend of morality gives testimony to his words of wisdom. But in spite of numerous theories and programs to turn things around, the answer lies in the “what’s it” story.
Changed individuals bring changes to their society. When God gets a hold of a man, a woman, or even a child, no matter what their particular vices have been, He is able to radically transform them. When the fearful become trusting, liars tell the truth, and unbelieving take heed to the Word of God, God uses them as salt and light in rottenness and darkness.
I know, I know... the “what’s it” story is too simple, too childlike. But remember, Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”