A few weeks back, we had OHS Clark in the pulpit. He preached on Col 2, and one of the points was that elemental “spirits” in Col 2:8,20 would be better rendered by elementary “principles” (as in the ESV footnote), i.e. the elementary principle which is inborn in all of us, namely the principle of Law (see also Gal 4). That same afternoon I saw just how elementary that principle is.
Since the visiting preacher man was to come over for lunch after church that day, the previous week I had prepared against the possibility that he might want to check up on my family catechism. In particular, I made sure my youngest (not quite 5) was up-to-speed on the SC Q&A he knows, which are 1-4. As it turned out, the OHS did not spring a pop quiz, so later I looked for opportunities to make the best of our preparations. When my youngest asked if he could play a computer game, I asked him “What is God?” He answered correctly, and I let him play the game. A little later, he asked for a second bowl of ice cream. So I asked him “What is the chief end of man?” He answered correctly, and I got up to give him another scoop.
On our way to the kitchen, he busts out with this crystal clear insight into my not-so-hidden purposes (as literally quoted as I can remember):
“Daddy, I figured out how it works, how to get things! I just say one commandment of the law, or say one catechism, and I get what I want, like a computer game, or more ice cream!”
Oh how elementary indeed is the principle of Law, that he should recognize it with such clarity! Unfortunately, I was taken aback, and missed the teachable moment. In hindsight, I realize I should have asked him, “So how do you get to heaven?”