I really enjoyed our time the past five Sundays in the first chapter of Colossians. I’m looking forward to getting into chapter 2 (as it contains a ministry-changing-for-me verse), but before we do, we’ll spend five weeks looking at the difference the Imago Dei makes in our relationships with our fellow humans. I encourage you to join us each week for this critical series!
For those of you who aren't parents and have no dreams of ever being one (or feel like it's a LONG way off), I have good news - this is the last in our series on parenting. 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 your children, empowering them through responsibility, and giving them your 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.
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 (ESV)
I realize you are not an ancient Jew, but I think you can learn something from these timeless words:
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:
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 lie down and when you rise.
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:
Find ways to remind yourself and your kids that God is with you and that following Jesus is an everyday thing, not just a Sunday thing.
Before I end, I need to make one critical point: You cannot force your child to follow Jesus. Only God can truly open their eyes and hearts to the beauty of the gospel.
Years ago, I heard a pastor put it this way: Only God can light the fire within your child, but you can put as much wood, paper, kindling, and fuel around your child as you can, so that when God lights it, they burn brightly.
And realize this: 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, God can still light the fire within them. (If you want to learn more on this point, read what pastor and author Marty Machowski (who wrote a kids' curriculum we used a while back 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.
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