I have really enjoyed our time on Sundays in the book of 1 John. Can’t believe we are going to finish it up this Sunday! (If you want, read chapter 5 once or twice before we study it together on Sunday.) If you’ve missed any previous message in the 1 John series, you can always catch up on the website or through iTunes (or your favorite podcast app. I personally use the Overcast app on my iPhone.)
Wrapping up Jesus-Centered Parenting
For those of you who aren’t parents and have no dreams of ever being one (or feel like its a LONG way off), I have good news – this is the last in our series on parenting. Based on the number of responses I’ve received, many of you found this series incredibly helpful, which I am VERY glad to hear. Hopefully this last article will do the same.
This week as we wrap up, I want to talk about THE most important part of parenting. So far, we’ve talked about showing your child kindness, being consistent in our instructions and discipline, casting vision to our children, empowering them through responsibility, and giving them our time and attention.
But there is one thing that trumps ALL these other areas of parenting. If you get this one thing right, the others tend to fall into place. And, if you get this one thing right, it will be the difference between being a good parent and a great parent.
What is this one thing? (You can probably guess from the title of this email!) The greatest thing you can do as a parent, if you are a follower of Jesus, is to provide your child with every opportunity to follow Jesus through the Gospel.
Weaving the Gospel into the Everyday
In the book of Deuteronomy, God is giving His people, the Israelites, instructions (like the Ten Commandments). But when you get to chapter 6, God basically says, “And here is THE most important command I give you.”
And what is this “greatest command”? To continually teach their children (and remind themselves) to fear (follow) the One True God.
Take a moment to read it yourself:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 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.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
I realize you are not an ancient Jew, but I still think you can learn something from this.
1. Talk about the Gospel
First, notice how talking about God was to be commonplace. They were to talk about loving God while sitting down, while walking, even when they headed to bed or got up in the morning. Talking about God was not just relegated to worship services or prayer times before a meal. It was woven into the very fabric of daily conversation.
As you seek to raise kids who love Jesus because they understand the gospel, you can:
- talk about Jesus while giving them their evening bath,
- talk about what you are learning while driving to Wal-mart together,
- mute TV commercials and talk about how the TV show you are watching affirms or contradicts the gospel,
- or talk about where your kids saw Jesus at work in their lives while at school.
The more you talk about Jesus, the more natural it becomes. So talk about the Gospel when you sit down and when you walk, when you lay down and when you rise.
2. Give yourself reminders
Second, God tells the Israelites to put regular reminders around themselves about loving God, whether in something they wear or something they put in their house.
You can do this by:
- wearing (or giving) a special ring or bracelet
- putting Scripture art on your walls or sticky notes with Scripture on the bathroom mirror
- putting a prayer reminder on a sticky-note on your steering wheel
- hanging a prayer calendar near the kitchen table with reminders to pray for a different person each night at supper
Find ways to reminder yourself and your kids that God is with you and that following Jesus is an everyday thing, not just a Sunday thing.
An Important Warning
Before I can end this, I need to remind you of one thing: You cannot force your child to follow Jesus. Only God can truly open their eyes and hearts to the beauty of the gospel.
I love how Pastor Matt Chandler puts it: Only God can light the fire within your child, but you can put as much wood, and paper, and fuel around your child as you can, so that when God lights it, they burn brightly.
And realize: if your child doesn’t place their faith in Jesus, or renounces the faith, you have not failed as a parent. All you can do is let your child see God’s work in you, and let them know about the gloriousness of the Gospel. And who knows, your child might later have a change of heart. As long as they are drawing breath, you can still hope and pray for God to light the fire. (If you want to learn more on this point, read what pastor and author Marty Machowski (who wrote the curriculum we are using in Kids Creek) says about this from a personal perspective.)
So talk about Jesus, remind yourself and your children about the Gospel, and let God do His work in your child as He also works in you.