The journey in raising our children to be a disciple of Jesus is long. It begins at birth and continues until we depart this terrestrial ball we call earth. Our greatest impact, generally, is at the beginning of that journey but the influence will still carry on until we reach the finish line. Those early days are perhaps the most intense. The dependency of our children is 24/7 with “rest” often a luxury we can seldom embrace. Yet these early days are when “the faith” is most absorbed by our children. When all those “W” questions are being asked silently or even on occasion orally. Our children will see what Dad and Mom really believe by how they live. What way of life will breathe within the home? What priorities will reign in daily life? How do we see the world, who made it and what are my responsibilities? Will the “Word of God” have a prominent place in our home or will the Bible be placed on a shelf to gather dust? Do we talk to God in our home and is He revered?
The mosaic of our family life will tell the story of whether “the faith” is living in our home. A place where joy and peace will be evergreen and growing. Our children will learn about God’s Kingdom and all that He has made. God will teach us about His plans for us, not only about our relationships within the family, but also those outside. About how to live with our extended family, neighbors, friends, and “yes”, even our enemies. Prayer and the Bible will be major features in the life of our home. Bringing wisdom and guidance to the issues of life. We can often think that “the faith” is learned through a catechism, Sunday school or perhaps a private Christian school. While those are certainly helpful, the reality of “the faith” is learned in one’s home in the context of family life and affirmed in the extended community of believers.
The journey of discipleship for our children takes place at home, first and foremost, with the goal that “the faith,” will become “my faith” in the lives of our children. That day, whether they are young or old, when “the faith” they have come to know, experience and trust becomes their very own. It’s no longer just the faith of my Dad and Mom, it has now moved across the thresh hold of an external practice and into an internal conviction in the life of my son or daughter. They have come to the place where it is now “My faith.” Reaching the conclusion where they now affirm their belief that Christ died for their* sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. I Corinthians 15:3-5 This day in the lives of our children is a pinnacle event for Dad and Mom. A time of great joy and thanksgiving for what God has done in the heart of our child, prayers answered, angels rejoicing.
takes place at home, first and foremost,
with the goal that “the faith,”
will become “my faith” in the lives of our children.
Yet the arrival of “my faith” in the lives of our children is not an endpoint, but a mile post in the journey. My faith now becomes “by faith.” But what does “by faith” entail? The letter to the Colossians helps to provide direction. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7 Experiencing their new life in Christ, our sons and daughters will need to grow deep roots. Learning how to walk in obedience to God’s word, growing in prayer and being equipped as a follower of Jesus. A concise picture of this process is given by the Apostle Paul in his last letter to his adopted son, Timothy. He sought to remind Timothy of his upbringing and the purpose behind it. “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:14-17
So, Dad and Mom, keep walking “by faith.” Continuing to grow in holding fast to the word of God and to prayer. In the process you are fulfilling the Great Commission Jesus gave to his disciples prior to his ascension. To go and make disciples, teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded. You are equipping the next generation. Jesus will be with you. Just as he promised.
* Author’s change from “our” to “their”
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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