Does Jesus Want “To Be My Friend Forever”?

My RSS reader (Google Reader) has given me links to at least two blogs (Founders Ministries and Tim Ellsworth) that have referenced the same story. Since two different people had thought it was important enough to write about I decided to read it and see what was going on. Here is the money quote:

We’re using these formative preschool years to build a foundation for that eventual decision by focusing on God’s love and telling preschoolers that “Jesus wants to be my friend forever.”

To give my answer to the question in the title: NO, Jesus wants to be our Lord. He died to pay the penalty for our sins. His blood was shed in our place and for that we owe Him everything. It is true that the Bible says we will be joint heirs with Jesus, and indeed we will, but He will always hold the preeminent position.

Apparently First Look (a company that develops children’s Sunday School material) has decided to omit the crucifixion from their Easter lesson. They have sent out a letter (click here to read it) attempting to explain their decision. In the letter they state that “because of the graphic nature of the Easter story and the crucifixion specifically” they have “chosen not to include the Easter story in our curriculum.” They go on to explain that “the crucifixion is simply too violent for preschoolers.” So, you might ask, what will the lesson on Easter be about? They are going to focus “on the Last Supper, when Jesus shared a meal and spent time with the people He loved.”

I am not saying that this is not a good lesson. It might be a very good lesson. The point is that they should not be afraid to tell the complete Easter story. I have 3 children (ages 11, 7, and 10 months) of my own and I have had discussions with them when they were very young about what Jesus did for us. I know that they did not grasp it all and I certainly did not go into graphic detail about the crucifixion. In fact, I waited some time before letting them see the movie The Passion of The Christ. The Easter story can be told very effectively to children without being graphic.

I am left to wonder a few things. Is this the first year that First Look has chosen not to tell the Easter story or have they done this before? What factors or other options did they consider in making this decision? What other parts of the Bible are they purposefully going to (or have been) be keeping from the children?

Does your church use First Look? Do you support their decision to not include the Easter story? Do you leave the crucifixion out when talking to your kids about what Jesus did for us? I am just curious how what you all think about this.


17 Responses to Does Jesus Want “To Be My Friend Forever”?

  1. Lene says:

    Yes, I’ve talked to mine & other young children about Jesus’ crucifixion. It isn’t always easy, but as you said, it can be done without getting too graphic. And, when a publisher of Sunday School curriculum starts “censoring” Biblical doctrines/truths then I am deeply suspicious of the motives. I cannot trust that such a publisher.


  2. Lene says:

    I cannot trust such a publisher. In fact, I would end my association with them if they did not correct their curriculum. Additionally, there is a big difference between having Jesus as “my friend” and having Him as “my Lord”. He calls us friend, yes. He is my best friend, but above all else, He is my Lord. The difference is vitally, eternally important.


  3. Tom says:


    I agree. I have to wonder if they are censoring the children’s curriculum how long it will be before they are also censoring youth and adult curriculum. I don’t know if this publisher prepares curriculum for any other age group but it seems it would be only a matter of time before that step is taken as well.


  4. Wahrheit says:

    The way I read it they’re completely omitting Easter and not just the crucifixion. The Easter story is, of course, the entire basis of the Christian Church. Without it there’s nothing but a holy man who did some “neat stuff” and preached a few parables before fading into obscurity.

    Jesus as friend is about right for two- and three-year-olds, by five kids are ready for a lot more.


  5. Tom says:

    That is the way I read it as well. You are correct, without the crucifixion and resurrection Christianity is worthless.


  6. hughvic says:

    Thank you for posting this fine essay. My aprehension is that the silly preschool initiative is the product of the educationist dogma on which the public schools are run, which dogma has concretized into a kind of antithesis of the Protestant theologies that begat organized pedagogical schooling in the first place. So, that particular Proddy Spawn coming home with a vengeance in the form of churchwomen and churchmen who play the role of homeroom teacher instead of Sunday school elder. The two may seem compatible, but it is a fatal mistake to let the two into the same henhouse.


  7. Tom says:


    I just want to attempt to clarify what you are saying so that I am sure I am understanding you.

    You are saying that this publishing company has succumbed to the political correctness and power grabbing motives of the public school systems and that people should not dabble in both area – public schools and Christian education.

    Is that close to what you meant?


  8. hughvic says:

    Yes, Tom. Every year I live it becomes clearer to me why Paul should have called on his charges to live or die on “Christ and Him crucified.” Not only do we need the reconciliation with the Father and the healing of our souls’ mortal wound through His forgiveness, but we need the radical revelation of our hideous deicidal hypocrisy, our bloodlust and deadly jealousies that will end in disaster if we don’t see what Golgotha shoved in our faces, as in Peter’s. Besides, without the Resurrection we would not even have heard of that particular rustic rabbi, because his disciples would not have gone to their far-flung and lonely and torturous deaths to witness to Christ, crucified and RISEN!


  9. Tom says:


    Well said!


  10. hughvic says:

    I received yours only after I’d posted mine, Tom. Yes, that’s indeed what I meant. The “Jesus Is My Baby, My Main Squeeze and My Doll”-style of pabulum, in sloganeering or in tinny Praise music, is beyond intentional wickedness; it’s witless banality that’s even more deadly. Mr. Huckabee went out of his way to do something like this to the Gospel, quite unbidden, in the Florida GOP presidential debate. Reduced it to pleasantries. Jesus wants to be my homey for life!

    Yeah, sure. And the demons believe too, except that they at least know to tremble.

    I don’t want to go off on a rant about how schooling has become, in the terminology of phenomenological Sociology, an ideology of its own. So just let me say that I’ve studied for more than 20 years how that ideology came to formation out of a perverted Protestantism, and yes, absolutely, the two do not mix. Schooling may seem sweetness and light, but it is Ps. 127:4, through and through. Bringing school-minded happytalk and curricula into a church is like dropping off your daughter for a pajama party featuring a Ouiji seance.

    By the way, I knew Duke Wayne, a kind and immensely likeable gentleman. He was my neighbor.


  11. cpnprice says:

    GOOD! Well Jesus wants to be our Lord and Saviour! He also wants to be our loving father! GOD BLESS AMERICA!


  12. Mike says:


    I am the co-author of Two Institutions , the blog that broke this story. Thank-you for posting on the subject and for helping to spread the word about this gross omission. Satan will use any means to steal the Gospel, but praise God he will never win. Keep up the good work!


  13. Tom says:


    Thanks for the kind words and thanks for visiting my blog.


  14. hughvic says:

    What a wonderful book! I can’t wait to read more. Godspeed, Mike.


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  16. rogahs says:

    I have to say that i disagree with you all. I’ve worked very closely with this curriculum and have had nothing but great things to say about it! I cannot even begin to tell you that lives changed by it. I was using it last year and was not aware of any omission of the crucifixion story, as we taught it to our preschoolers at church.
    And secondly, I would never discourage the teaching of Jesus wanting to be our friend! I agree that there is a certain sense of reverence in the word Lord that I think is left out of Friend, but how better to express God’s desire for a personal relationship with us then to teach that Jesus wants to be our friend? It is the truth after all. We can define the relationship with Christ with a million different words, but at the end of the day, the relationship that God wants for us is personal, intimate. Kids need to know that Jesus wants to be their friend! There are far too many churches out there that don’t teach a personal relationship with Christ, and it kills their ministry.
    I hope you all will understand the importance of this point. I would never suggest watering down the gospel, or sugar coating it either. But understanding that Jesus wants to be their friend is of utmost importance!


    • Tom Shelton says:


      I appreciate your point of view but I must make a point or two of clarification.

      I completely agree that God wants an intimate personal relationship with us. I must say that friendship is not the focus of this. The focus of that relationship is that He wants to be our Savior. Friendship can be an aspect of that but it is a minor aspect at best.

      Therefore, as we teach our children, I would suggest that we must focus on Jesus as our Savior. From that, everything else can be developed. Having Jesus as our friend is not the same as having Him as our Savior. I fear that many may teach the friendship aspect and never teach the Savior aspect. The consequence is that our children will not have a proper understanding of who Jesus is and when the grow up this will cause them problems an may hinder their spiritual growth. This can be corrected but it is easier to do it right from the beginning.


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