No Room for Passivity
I once asked a friend at my Christian university about her church background, and was quite disconcerted by her response. Her parents grew up in two different denominations, and rather than choose one of these churches for their family, they chose not to go to church at all. Their reasoning was that they did not want to unduly influence their children toward one church or the other; they wanted the children to make their own decisions about their religious leanings. When my friend hit her teen years, she began to feel a need for spirituality in her life, so she went to her local library and checked out one book after another on different world religions. After extensive research, she decided that Wicca made the most sense to her, so that was the religion she ardently pursued.
Is this our only recourse as Christian parents—to leave our children to hopefully discover true and saving faith on their own? On the contrary, the Bible lays the responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of children squarely on the shoulders of parents. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Notice that this passage leaves no room for passivity. God does not suggest that parents merely take their children to church on Sunday and Wednesday, drop them off in the children’s or youth department, and count that as their spiritual training for the week. While the church is an invaluable support and ally for Christian parents, the few hours spent there each week are meant to guide and supplement, not replace, the teaching necessary to raise God-centered, Jesus-loving children.
Testimony of Intentional Sharing
How should parents go about teaching their children at home? Deuteronomy 6 clearly challenges parents with the 24-7 responsibility of actively knowing and living out God’s commands and leading their children to do the same. So while spiritual instruction can be as simple as reading a daily Psalm at the breakfast table and saying a blessing over the food, one very effective teaching method is for parents to simply immerse themselves in Scripture each day, to thrive in their own personal walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, and to intentionally share what they are learning with their children. In addition to time in God’s Word, parents should pray often for and with their children--in the morning, at bedtime, when they come home from school upset. They should come together before the Lord not only in times of need, but also in moments of thanksgiving (1 Thess. 5:17-18). As children pray and begin to see God answer their prayers, they will grow in their faith.
This is my testimony: Just as Lois and Eunice passed their faith along to young Timothy (2 Tim. 1:5), my mother’s vibrant relationship with Jesus and love of God’s Word poured over into my life and led me to know Christ and to grow in Christ. By taking me with her before the Lord in every circumstance of life, she ushered me into a personal relationship with a loving Savior who knew and cared about every detail of my childhood, and worked powerfully in my life to show me His presence. Unlike my Wiccan friend, I was blessed with godly parents who raised me in a Bible-centered home and in Bible- teaching churches, and instilled in me a biblical worldview that helped me stay on track with God through all of life’s challenges.
Fight for their Souls
By taking charge of their children’s spiritual education, parents are fulfilling the Great Commission, recorded in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” They are also teaching their children to discern truth from error: “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).” In other words, parents are fighting for their children’s souls, against an enemy that would snatch them away (Matthew 13:4-8, 19-23). Nehemiah’s rallying cry for God’s people of old (see previous article here): “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes (Neh. 4:14)” still serves as an inspiration for parents today to step up, to stand strong, and to engage in the battle for their children’s souls.
Fighting for Your Children Series