A snippet of a conversation with a child who loves basketball and sees little wrong with small repetitive sins in his life:
Me: Basketball is a fun game isn't it?
Child: Yeah, I LOVE basketball.
Me: So if you were playing a basketball game with your team, would you ever think about taking the ball and going down to the other team's hoop to make a basket?
Child: No! That would be ridiculous! I would NEVER do that!
Me: I bet if you did that, your team would be mad at you.
Child: Yeah, they probably wouldn't want me to play with them.
Me: Did you know that in life there are two teams? A team who does what is right and lives for God and a team who does not. Do you love Jesus?
Me: Did you know that every time you sin, you are shooting baskets for the team who doesn't love Jesus? How do you think that make's Jesus and His team feel?
Child: I don't do that. It is just that other people bother me and they make me do what is wrong.
Me: So if someone on your team doesn't do what you want them to do, does that mean you get to take the ball and play for the other team?
Child: No, I already told you, I would never do that.
Me: But that IS what you are doing. Every time you sin, that is your choice. Nobody else makes you sin. You choose to go play for the other team and leave your team behind. That is why your team gets angry with you. You can't pretend to be on Jesus' team and go play for the other team. You have to make up your mind. You cannot play for both teams. I know sometimes it is hard and we don't always FEEL like doing what is right. But we don't live our lives based upon our feelings. We must have self-control. Remember, it is one of the fruits of the spirit.
Child: I'm NOT singing the song. (He's referring to the song about the fruits of the spirit.)
Me: That's fine. But every time you sin (and I listed a few of the instances where he sins frequently), I'm going to ask you, "Who are you shootin' hoops for?" Okay? It will be our secret phrase. I don't want you to behave simply because you might get into trouble. I want you to do what is right and good so that you honor God. Also, others will know whose team you are on. No one wants to play basketball with a guy who keeps making shots for the other team.
To a child, sin isn't always a big deal. Unfortunately many adults feel the same way. Ironically, shooting baskets for the opposing team is a huge deal and creates a visual children can relate to. I hope that as children grow up they begin to see sin for what it is and decide to forsake sin because it is wrong—not simply because they will get in trouble. This is not an easy lesson to teach.
Sarah and her husband have six children under the age of 12, 2 dogs, and way too much laundry! When they aren't busy with school, sports, and church, Sarah enjoys exploring northern Michigan and camping with her family.