I don’t like Veggie Tales; they are a memorable but moralistic retelling of Bible stories that many Christians think are good for children. Vegetables are but Veggie Tales aren’t. The behavior they teach isn’t distinctively Christian. Muslims, Jews, and Mormons will embrace the same morals, but that’s not the real problem.
The real problem is they don’t teach the Gospel, or they make the Gospel a dependent clause. “Because Jesus died on the cross, you should be a good boy.” Moreover, while most kids rebel against moralistic teaching, there are some kids who take to it like ducks to water. The former can be reached by Law and Gospel. The latter are more difficult to reach. In their minds, they’ve done everything the Veggie Tales told them to, so as Rod Serling might have said, instead of Veggie Tales I give you Animal Tales.
I start with the hunt for a big cat. No, not a tomcat, not a bobcat, not a lynx, but a mountain lion, an immature one judging form it’s mottled coat. I had surprised it on my post-Christmas hunt. It was hunting the same rabbit I was or perhaps it was hunting me while I was hunting the rabbit. In any event, later sightings confirmed its approximate location. Post-Easter I took my electronic predator call out at night to call it up.
I did not call up the cat, nor did I learn more about its whereabouts. I did learn about predators. After listening for an hour and a half to a chicken, a yellow-tailed woodpecker, and a jackrabbit in distress, I could hardly take it. They were so mournful, so pitiable, and this is what draws a predator. You don’t use a chicken pleasantly clucking, or a yellow-tailed woodpecker trilling, or a jackrabbit “jackrabbitting” to lure a predator. And it’s not because big cats, or coyotes, for that matter, are afraid of chickens, birds, or rabbits, or that they would have trouble catching a healthy one. No, it’s the weakness itself that attracts predators.
People who have the potential of being held hostage are told, “Don’t beg for your life. Don’t whine, don’t sob. It sets your captors off. It gives them the excuse their looking for.” (I don’t think this means you use the Martin Riggs method and dare them to shoot you.)
This Animal Tale, however, isn’t about the being a hostage but being a sinner. When dealing with your besetting sins, when confronted by the armed gunman of temptation, don’t beg, don’t plead, don’t whine, “Why won’t God help me?” It only sets the old Adam and unbelief off. Paul in Romans 7 isn’t whining. He is stating the truth that he fails to do the good he wants and instead does the evil he doesn’t want. But notice where He ends up? In a bold statement, “Thanks be to God who gives me the victory in Christ Jesus.” And then even more unexpectedly he boldly says even if his body is a servant of sin his conscience serves the Law of God. He won’t beg with his predator; He considers it defeated in Christ.
One more tale from the animal kingdom. A cow is having a calf, but the calf is too big for her, so the rancher and his friend have to pull the calf out by hand. This injures the cow to the point where she can’t get up. As the rancher is wiping his hands, he hears his friend speaking to the cow. “Girl I know this is disgusting but it’s for you own good. I mean no disrespect.” The rancher turns to see his friend urinating all over the fallen animal. The rancher says, “What on earth are you doing?” His friend replies, “She has no chance against vultures and coyotes. She can’t even lift her head off the ground. This way they’ll leave her alone.” For over 4 weeks nearly every day, the rancher and his friend take the tractor and lift the cow off the ground for few minutes each day; they feed and water her; they dose her with antibiotics. The vultures and coyotes left her alone and she recovered.
The rancher’s friend didn’t urinate on the cow because he hated her. Neither did he pee on the cow and tell her it was raining. He admitted to the cow what it was and told her it was for protection. From the cow’s point of view though, it appeared that her owner was doing a horrible, distasteful, disrespectful thing.
Those of us in Christ have no idea of what vultures or coyotes lay in wait for us. We would probably die of fright if we did, so the Lord hides us. The Book of Revelation speaks of the Lord hiding His Church from the pursuing dragon, Satan. The Lord can hide us under horrible and distasteful things that are disrespectful to us. And even when He shows up to lift us, to feed us, to doctor us, He might leave us in those disgusting things.
Ultimately, of course, the rancher and his friend knew money is at stake. The loss of a momma cow in a cow and calf operation is a double loss for a year. I suppose you could say there’s “money” at stake for God too. He purchased us not with gold and silver but with Jesus’ holy precious Blood and His innocent suffering and death. Having invested that much in our salvation, surely He at least watches over us as closely as the rancher did his cow. Moreover, having received eternal profit from His Son’s humiliation, we are to know that whatever humiliation comes our way must be for our benefit. It can at least serve to smack our proud, predatory Old Adam on the nose.
These Animal Tales should be adjusted to the age of the child you are telling them to. They aren’t as cute as talking carrots or lettuce but they say more about Jesus.