I've fielded the occasional question from Guy this summer about what is real. So for our next lesson from The Book of Mormon, I wanted to address the question that many people in the world wonder: Is Jesus Christ real?
The Book of Mormon is an excellent resource for answering this question, because many of the prophets who wrote the records that make up the Book of Mormon saw Christ personally. In fact, the title page of the Book of Mormon states that its purpose is to convince us all that "Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations."
I took inspiration for my lesson from 2 Nephi 11, where Nephi declares that his soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah, because Isaiah truly saw his Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Nephi then immediately proclaims that he, himself has also seen the Redeemer, as has his brother Jacob.
This made me wonder, who else in the Book of Mormon has seen the Savior? I started a list, although it is admittedly a very incomplete one: Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, King Lamoni, the Brother of Jared, Emer all testify that they have seen the Savior. I then added the 400 or so followers in the New Testament who saw the resurrected Lord and the hundreds of people who Jesus Christ appeared to in the new world after his resurrection. The Apostle Paul saw Jesus Christ when he was miraculously converted. Adam and Eve walked and talked with the Lord while in the Garden of Eden. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego spoke with Christ as he stood with them in Nebuchadnezzer's fiery furnace. Moses spoke with him and delivered his message to the Israelites.
The list goes on and on. To study who the Lord has revealed himself to is to truly study all of scripture, because Jesus Christ has been dealing with man from the beginning of time to the present day.
If anything, this exercise is revealing to me how much more studying I need to do personally to make myself into the kind of teacher that I want to be to my children. But that's ok. I had wanted to teach these lessons to my children before school begins, but I might have to accept that these lessons might not be as flushed out as I'd love for them to be, if I am going to get it all in under my self-imposed deadline!
So, I began our lesson/discussion by asking my kids what is real? I asked them to tell me some things that they know are real.
Scarlett immediately said, "Jesus Christ is real.......and ponies are real."
Guy responded with, "Well, I know that Kung Fu Panda is NOT real...they're in costumes, right???"
Our discussion took a small detour as I explained how cartoon animation works, and then fielded a follow-up question about whether Star Wars was real or if they were "wearing metal costumes." Metal costumes. Moving on.
I gave my children two reasons why I know personally that Jesus Christ is real.
I know that he is real, because when I read the scriptures, I read the words of a lot of different people, living on different continents at different times, who have actually seen Jesus Christ...and I believe their words. I talked about Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Isaiah, and King Lamoni. We read their testimonies of having seen the Lord. We also read the New Testament accounts of people feeling his hands and feet.
I also know that Jesus is real, because he has appeared to people in our day. Joseph Smith saw Jesus Christ and God the Father when he prayed to know which church to join. And I have had my own personal experiences, one in particular, where I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is indeed real.
I think my kids appreciated this little talk, but I wanted to make it even more tangible for them, so we did an impromptu exercise. First I explained that we might never see Jesus Christ in the flesh, as others have. We might not touch his hands and feet in this life, however we can still know for ourselves that he is real. But how can we know that he is real if we can't see or touch him?
I blindfolded each child with a kitchen towel so that they could not see, and I asked them to stick out their tongues. As they did so, I dropped a pinch of salt in their mouths. They did not see the salt, and they really didn't feel it, but another sense, told them that the salt was real and that it existed. (It also told them that I put too much of it in their mouths for their liking!) Then I grabbed some brown sugar and dropped some of that into their mouths. Again, they could not see or really feel it with their hands or even hear it, but they knew it was real and what it was by utilizing other senses.
I attempted to demonstrate this in other ways too, by blowing on their skin for instance. You cannot see wind. You cannot touch or hold wind, but you know it exists, because you can witness its affects and feel its power.
In a similar way, we can use more than just our sense of sight to tell us that Jesus Christ is indeed real. We can use our internal sense of discernment. We can "feel" the promptings of the Holy Ghost. We can "hear" the whisperings of the Spirit. We can observe the Lord working in our lives and in the world in general, and we can "taste" the good fruits of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Just as the animators of the movie Kung Fu Panda threw Guy for a loop with their brilliant animation skills, relying on only a few of our most commonly used senses can trick us, if we do not employ the other senses that I mentioned in conjunction with our sense of sight.
Like I said, I wish I had more time to make these lessons into masterpieces, but I am happy with how they are turning out, even with very little preparation. Line upon line, I hope to help my children build a sure foundation for themselves as they head into the next stage of their little lives!