For Christian parents, just thinking of what we should teach our children about God can seem overwhelming. Our duty might feel so daunting, that we may want to look the other way. We might not realize the opportunity we have, and how quickly it slips away.
Some of the methods we use to teach our children about God can damage them…for life.
I know there are all sorts of horrible crimes committed against children, here, and around the world. It is painful to speak or even hear of them. And we are in pain, because we have heard of a lot of them lately.
But today I am thinking of the eternal harm we can cause children.
We owe our children truth, not moralism.
When it comes to sharing Christ, we owe our children more than to moralize the Bible’s teachings, to water down the Gospel into something barely recognizable, and to call that “leading the children to Jesus”.
Moralism, a seemingly harmless practice, is actually a noxious gas to a child’s understanding of God and truth.
When we value a child as a person, who is capable of grasping great truth, we teach them differently. We respect them enough to tell them the truth of God’s word. Not just a pretty story.
“There is great harm when the truth of a text [of scripture] is manipulated to force a lesson on the minds of children. The practice lacks integrity.”
We must not cause them to stumble, but if and when we do, we owe them immediate and sincere repentance.
Remember the warning of the millstone in the Bible? Jesus said “if any of you causes one of these little children to stumble…it would be better for you to have a millstone hung around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea”.
For me, the imagery is terrifying. I never want to look underwater in rivers, lakes or oceans. I’m not the girl you want to take scuba-diving, or even snorkeling.
We are going to be held accountable before God for how we did or did not share Jesus’ teachings with our children.
Those of us in ministry to children also have a heavy responsibility to treat children as people. We must protect them from well-meaning adults who don’t necessarily love Jesus.
We owe it to them to be reading God’s Word ourselves, showing them how it teaches and convicts us.
Do we treat God’s Word like a hushed topic to be brought out when everyone could not possibly be more bored? Or is it a life-giving breath of fresh air that applies to all of life, we just have to show them how?
It is parents like us who can weave the great Story into all of life. The Bible has an incredible amount of practical, hilarious, inappropriate, and heart changing lessons.
When we don’t read the Bible ourselves, we don’t know what it says.
How can we teach them to love a God we don’t even know?
We must remember that it is a joyful adventure to live for God. We must value and desire a life for our children that is completely devoted to God, much more than we value anything else for our children.
We must speak to them about Christ and the Gospel with more consistency and passion than we use to discuss getting good grades, excelling in sports, whether or not they should eat their vegetables, or if they lost their sweatshirt on the playground.
But it isn’t all serious! God has a sense of creativity and humor that you and I can’t even imagine!
It is GOOD to laugh with our kids about the things God created.
For reasons that will become obvious to you if you should choose to watch it, I was unable to post the Sea Pig video…I might get excommunicated. So instead…
Our children deserve to be shown the creativity and humor also. It widens and deepens their understanding of the God of the universe. As in “hmm, maybe He’s not boring after all”. Was anyone else surprised to come across the passage of Ezekiel in the desert begging God to let him use animal dung instead of human excrement for his baking needs?
I got off track…
We must live our lives with passion for the one thing that truly matters in eternity.
When we go around with such a somber face about all things gospel related, what are we showing our children? When we are passionate about something, it shows.
“Let us save Christianity for our children by bringing them into allegiance to Christ the King. How? How did the old Cavaliers bring up sons and daughters in passionate loyalty and reverence for not too worthy princes?
Their own hearts were full of it; their lips [spoke it]; their acts proclaimed it, the style of their clothes, the ring of their voices, the carriage of their heads- all was one proclamation of boundless devotion to their king and his cause.”
History has provided us with amazing examples of devotion and loyalty to kings and causes. Could we do any less for the Ultimate King?
Lastly, we must be careful that in our passion, we do not ignore the fact that a little goes a long way.
In the process of leading our children into passionate love and loyalty to our Lord, we must treat them how we would want to be treated. That means that we must not be hypocrites. We must not talk endlessly after we have read a short section of the Bible with them. Let them think about it themselves, and don’t pester them about what they’re thinking about it. We must not talk down to them about God’s ways. We must not be legalistic. If we wouldn’t want those things done to us, let’s not do them to our precious children.
The good news about all of this, is that God can redeem any situation. We might make a terrible mess that He will delight in fixing. Another piece of good news is that we have today. It is not too late for some of us. But we have to grab that time and use it wisely.
This is a wonderful trust God has given us. We love our children! When we love Jesus, there is no one we would rather introduce to our children. Let’s be intentional, and remember that children are intelligent miniature adults with an incredible capacity for the Truth.