Probably all of you boys and girls who read the little story I am going to tell at the beginning will say, “I know all about that story already! Something like that happened to me, too!” 

Here is the little story. Early one hot summer afternoon, Jon and Jill, who lived four houses down the street, hurried up the sidewalk and knocked at the door. Phil and Paula ran to open it. 

“Hi,” they all said. 

Then Jill, who talked more than Jon did, told why they had come: “It’s so hot today, and my mother wonders whether you would like to go for a swim in the pool with us and then have a picnic in the park.” 

Phil and Paula poked one another, and Paula said, “Why, no, we can’t!” 

“Don’t you know it’s Sunday today?” Phil reminded them. 

“So. . .” Jill said. 

“Go ask your mother,” Jon told them. 

“She would say no. We go to church on Sunday.” 

“We did, too—this morning,” Jill said, “and now our Sunday is over.” 

“Ours lasts all day,” Phil started to say. He was going to add, “because God wants us to serve Him every minute of His day”; but Jon interrupted him: “Why do you have to be so strict? ‘Don’t do this and don’t do that!’ Don’t you ever get tired of it? How come your family is sodifferent?”

What would you have answered if someone asked you why your family was so different? We are different, very different from most of the families who live in this earth Do you know that only a very few, a tiny number of people serve God as we do? 

That is why we must answer so many questions from our neighbor s and playmates who do not serve God as we do They ask us many questions that go something like this: “How come you may not go to the park and play a game of ball on Sunday afternoon?”

You answer: “Because Sunday is the Lord’s Day.” 

They ask: “How do you know?” 

You answer: “Because I am a Christian and I know it from the Bible.” 

They ask: “How come you go to a special Christian school?” 

After you think a while, you might answer: “Because in a Christian school we learn what God’s Word tells us.” 

And then they go on to ask you why you pray, and why you have to learn those hard catechism questions, and why you don’t go to movies, and may watch hardly any programs on television, and whether you like to have such strict parents Do you ever get stuck when you try to answer their questions? 

Go along with me, then, to God’s Word, and let me help you find the answers there to the question: “Why are you different?”

You are different because of a promise. God made that promise long, long ago to Abraham, and becauseGod made the promise, He surely will keep it. Do you remember that God called Abraham to go to a land that He would show him, and that the name of the land was Canaan? After Abraham came to Canaan, God gave him a most beautiful promise: that He would give the land of Canaan to the children that would be born from Abraham’s family—not every single child from Abraham’s family, but those children whom God chose to be His children from Abraham’s children. The best part of God’s promise was that some day Jesus would be born from Abraham’s children. Remember that, because I am going to tell you more about it pretty soon. God even took Abraham outside at night and asked whether he could count the millions of stars in the sky. No, Abraham couldn’t. God promised that the people that came from Abraham—we call them Abraham’s seed—would be as many as the stars of the sky. Abraham would not be able to count his seed, either. 

Do you think that Abraham was happy? Yes, but he was troubled, too; for he had no children yet—not even one child—and he and Sarah his wife were far too old to have a baby anymore. Abraham believed God’s Words, but he asked God how he would know that his children would live in the land of Canaan. 

God answered by giving Abraham a special picture-story, a sign. See if you can make the picture-story real in your mind, too. God sent Abraham to get some animals from his flock: a young cow, a she-goat, a ram, a turtle dove, and a pigeon. Now watch what Abraham did with those animals: he cut the cow in half and laid each half alongside a path. Next he cut the goat in half and laid each half behind the pieces of the cow next to the path. Then came the two halves of the ram, in rows behind the cow and the goat. At the end, Abraham put the whole turtle dove on one side of the path and the whole pigeon on the other side. Now the parth was in the middle of the rows of dead animals!

Does this seem like a strange picture to you? It was not strange to Abraham. He knew all about it, because it was something people did in those days when they made promises to one another. After someone made a promise, he walked between the halves of the dead animals, and it meant that he would rather die than break his promise. 

Is the picture still in your mind? It is a picture of God keeping His promise to Abraham—the promise that he would always be the friend of Abraham’s children. He would give Abraham’s children the land of Canaan, but He would do much more than that. He promised to save Abraham’s children from all their sins and take them to heaven with Him when they died. That was the most wonderful promise there ever was! And, remember, God said He would rather die than break His promise. 

Now watch what happened. Abraham sat near those dead animals all day, until the sun went down. When it was very dark, he saw a lighted lamp and a smoking furnace pass through those pieces of animals, and Abraham knew that it was God Himself Who was walking through those dead animals. It meant that God would walk right through death to save His people. To keep His promise to be their Friend and Savior, God would have to die

When did God die? When He sent Jesus, His own dear Son, to live on the earth in a body just like ours, so that He could go to the awful cross to suffer and die to take away the sins of His friends. Our Jesus, Who is God, walked right through death to save Abraham’s children. That is the way God kept His promise. 

The Bible calls God’s promise of friendship by a beautiful name: His covenant. And He made that covenant with Abraham and his children. But what about us? Is that promise for us, too? Did Jesus die for us? Let me explain to you who Abraham’s children are: they are Jesus’ children; for the Bible tells us that if we are Jesus’ children, then we are Abraham’s children, and His promise is for us. Jesus was the seed of Abraham. That means that Jesus was the Child that all the people who believed God’s promise looked for all through the long years before He was born. We don’t have to look for Jesus anymore, for He has already come to earth and has died for us, and gone back to heaven. We believe that, don’t we? We believe that we are Jesus’ children because God gave us faith in our hearts so we can believe it. 

God did one more wonderful thing. He promised Abraham and He promised us that He would make His covenant—His promise—with families of believers: fathers and mothers, boys and girls, who will grow up to be fathers and mothers and have more children, on and on until the end of time. God calls His children from the families of believers. Now can you see how our families are connected with Abraham’s family? The Bible calls Abraham the father of believers, and we are sometimes called children of Abraham. 

Now we can see that God’s promise to Abraham is His promise to us, too. Do you feel like a special child? You are. For God did not choose all the children on this earth to be His children. No, most of them God did not choose. God did not even choose everyone of the children from fathers and mothers who love the Lord; but usually it is God’s way to save children from fathers and mothers who believe in our Lord Jesus. Isn’t that a beautiful way for God to save His children? 

What does it mean that God gave the promise of His covenant to you? It means that being one of God’s covenant children is the greatest thing that could ever happen to you. Why? Because Jesus our Lord went to the cross for you; and there He took away all your sins, and I-Ie gave you new hearts that are clean and that love Him. That is the best thing that can ever happen to you—to have God for your Savior and Friend. But there is more. Covenant children are the very richest children in the world. No, you aren’t the richest in money. You are the richest because God has promised to His covenant children all the treasures in heaven: the happiness and beauty and peace and joy and love of living forever with our God. 

But we are not in heaven yet. What does it feel like to be a covenant boy or girl here on earth—a differentkind of boy or girl—a special child? Is it because we are so good? Shall we brag that we are so much better than other children? Is that why we are different? Oh, no! Just think of all the bad, sinful things we think and do every minute of the day. No, we are all bad, until God says to us: “You are my covenant children. I chose you to be mine. I will take away your sins and make you want to love me with all your hearts.” God does it all, and we can only say, “Thank you, Lord.” 

Now we can understand that we are different because God made us different. He makes us believe His promises and love Him; and when we love Him, we ask Him to make us sorry for our sins and to fight them with all our might. And when He forgives our sins, He makes us, oh, so happy—so happy that we want to sing songs of thanks and praise.

The next time Jon and Jill ask you, “Do you like to be a covenant child?” tell them, “I like it better than anything in the whole world.” 

If they ask you, “Why do you like it better than anything in the whole world?” tell them, “Because with my body and my soul, in life and in death, I belong to Jesus.”