Or Are they just borrowing it?
By Tek & Goldie Chong
Nancy grew up in a church-going home and her parents had her baptized as a baby and confirmed when she was a teenager. When she got married at 17, her husband also went to church. Nancy admitted she has not read the bible much and was not knowledgeable about its teachings.
John, a parent sobbed, ‘’Sonny went obediently to Sunday school and youth fellowship. We always say grace before meals. Now he is arrested by the police caught with drugs. What happened?’’
Joe, a high schooler admitted, ‘’When my teacher taught that the universe started with a big bang and that man evolved from apes I thought what my parents always said about God being the creator was not scientific….’’
Harvey who just started working confessed, ‘’My colleagues talk about humanism, naturalism, moral relativism. There is so much choice besides Christianity. Which one should I choose?’’
These remarks are signs that we haven’t given our faith to our children. They have just borrowed our faith, so naturally it will not stand up when they are confronted with something different or are challenged in the secular world. A lot of parents will be terribly dismayed when their kids reject their faith. They have been lulled into a sense of security when their kids appeared to toe their line until they left home.
Parents need to intentionally teach their children about the faith, not a religion.
God commanded , ‘’if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today – to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul – then I will send rain on your land……
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.’’ Deut. 11:13, 19
This means our faith is to be imparted informally, in every situation, at all hours of the day. Kids are watching us all the time. But too many parents mistakenly believe that Sunday school teachers or pastors are responsible to teach their children or that they have done their duty when they pass on Christian traditions, liturgies, formulae, rites. They hope Christianity will somehow rub off onto their children. They urge, ‘’Just come along to church meetings, especially the big events: Christmas with special music, Easter with egg hunting, anniversaries with banquets….’’ Parents and grandparents are proud and satisfied to see their children perform in the choir or act as shepherds in the nativity scene.
True it is good to pass on our rituals, traditions, habits, etc but it is not enough. God wants us to teach our kids to love Him and know what His Word says, reading it, explaining it, applying and obeying it. We must link our faith with our lifestyle which means we are teaching informally all the time. We need also to take every opportunity to speak intentionally to each child about what the Good News is: Jesus is God become man and lived among us; He died to redeem us from the consequence of sin; his resurrection proved he is God; by following him we will go to heaven to be with him; Christianity is having a personal relationship with God starting on earth until eternity. If they understand this and are ready, pray the salvation commitment prayer with them. Even if they don’t understand it entirely at their young age, the Holy Spirit will remind them of their decision later on.
WHAT DO WE GIVE THEM?
Give them the Real God, not the Santa Claus god who gives gifts and happiness when they are good; not the doting grandfather who sits in his rocking chair dishing out old fashion advice. Do we give the impression that serving God is like serving in a social club, giving service when it is convenient and ignoring it when we have other things to do? We must present the majestic Creator of heaven and earth and the vast universe; the loving God who came down as a human being to live among us, to provide a way for us to go back to God; the resurrected Jesus who will come back to judge the world. Do we read and study the bible together, keep a regular Quiet Time, teach them to do the same?
SHARE SIGNIFICANT ENCOUNTERS
After crossing the Jordan God told the people to set up a memorial to remember God’s miraculous help. Joshua declared, ‘’In the future when your children ask you what do these stones mean, tell them ….’’ Joshua 4:6. Share with them stories and significant events of how God worked in your lives.
Remind them how God revealed Himself to you on different occasions. Paul said, ‘’I boast about what Christ has done through me…. they were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way I have fully presented the Good News of Christ….’’ Rom.15:18,19 NLT
Share your testimonies and stories about how God is real in your life; His divine supernatural help and deliverance. Because we serve a supernatural God we should pray that they will have personal unforgettable encounters with God. As Peter and Paul shared their miraculous signs and wonders we should expect them in our lives and our children’s lives as well.
Julia was delighted when her six-year-old grandson seeing she goes out every Sunday asked, ‘’where are you going?’’ She said, ‘’to church to worship Jesus’’. He asked, “what is church? Who is Jesus? What does worship mean?’’ The more questions he asked the more she is able to share and explain her faith. So here a little, there a little she is able to give him her faith.
If our teenagers are not asking questions, we should start asking them questions. Challenge them as to why they believe, e.g. how can they answer evolutionists, atheists, free-thinkers, etc. Assure them ours is not a blind faith. We have answers to all of the questions they may come up with. Choose books for them to read that explain their faith, e.g. Paul Little’s “Know what you Believe’’ “’Know why you Believe’’, Creation magazine which has eminent scientists’ research which refute evolution and point to Creator-Designer God.
Goldie’s grandfather in China was sent by the early Methodist missionaries to study theology in USA to become a minister. Day by day as they observed how he reacted to situations, his kids lost their respect for him and when they grew up most of them left the church. Gideon told his army ‘’watch me…follow my lead…do exactly as I do.’’ Can we parents say the same? To earn respect and be worthy of following, we need two qualities. The first is conviction – we must be convicted about the value of our faith and convictions can’t be faked. Second is credibility – when our children trust us they will listen to us. Values are caught, not taught. The way we live will be the proof of our words.
After doing all that is suggested above, ultimately what counts is to be doers of the Word to model to our children what it means to follow Christ. If they find our lives attractive they will want the same. God holds parents responsible to give their faith to the next generation.
NOT TOO LATE
Our kids were God’s kids first before they were given to us, so what He owns He loves, protects and cares about, much more than we do. Like the prodigal son they may have broken every one of God’s laws and broken our hears but there is still hope and restoration. God Himself is a father and He understand hurting parents – so parents’ prayers are an entry point for Him to re-enter their lives. Like the prodigal’s father, our patient love and unconditional forgiveness will draw the prodigals back home. Jesus said to grieving Jairus, ‘’don’t be afraid. Just have faith and she will be healed’’ Lk 8:50. So reply like the epileptic boy’s desperate father, ‘’I believe, help my unbelief.’’ Mk.9:24. We have committed ourselves to pray for our children every day since they were young. We still do and now we include our grandchildren.
In 2004 God told me, ”The children of YOUR servants will live in YOUR presence; their descendants will be established before YOU” Ps.102:28. This has partly been fulfilled in that our three daughters and their spouses and children are in the Lord. We continue to pray for the rest. Our belief is that next to doing all that is possible, the best is to pray for them because as we pray, God will work.