So recently I have been thinking about the things we should be intentional about sharing with our children.
If you were to choose four things to encourage personal hygiene it might look like this:
Brush your teeth twice a day
Wash your hands
Put your clothes to the wash
Parents of teenagers will appreciate how important these four are and what a difference it makes to the whole house.
If we were to choose four things to do with time management it might be we say:
Do what you have to do before you do what you want to do.
Make a task list.
There are seasons to work and seasons to play.
Always make space for people.
So, all this made me wonder what would be the top four things I would want my children to know about the things of God. I have to say the list surprised me and spurred me to action. So here is my current top four, with a few comments. (Subject to change of course).
1. The Gospel
This seems like the most basic thing our children should know. We don’t want to simply share the morals, worldview and culture of Jesus we want to share how they can have their own relationship with him. In hearing the Gospel, so much of the character of God is revealed: his love and his righteousness.
2. My testimony
I want my children to know that this is real for me. Whilst thinking about this I realised it had been a while since we told our children how we came to Jesus. So, that night, round the dinner table my wife and I shared our stories. It was interesting to see their reactions. It also made me realise it had been a long time since we had shared our stories with them. Even our eldest couldn’t remember it.
3. The Holy Spirit is here
This one statement provides access to all of the kingdom that God has for us here on earth. Knowing they have a comforter who will remind them what Jesus taught helps them to live boldly without fear of getting it wrong. It leads to an expectancy that God will speak to us as we read the Bible. Knowing that God’s power lives in them makes them bold to expect God’s kingdom to come to earth. And best of all, knowing that God lives in them leads to greater intimacy with Him. Knowing the Holy Spirit also opens up discussions about the whole spiritual realm.
4. Jesus is coming back!
I want my children to live their lives not simply for the now, but in the light of eternity. The reality of
the return of Christ helps us to face the challenges of living in a fallen world with hope for the future. This seems to be a topic that is not talked about often in many homes and so we should be intentional to discuss the last days with our children. Amy Semple McPherson, founder of the foursquare gospel movement, had these words written behind her pulpit: Saviour, baptizer, healer and soon coming king.
Charles Wesley (brother of John, founder of the Methodist movement) looked to Christ’s return in his hymns as John did in his preaching. For example he wrote these words:
Lo! He comes, with clouds descending,
Once for favoured sinners slain;
Countless angels, Him attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Jesus comes, and comes to reign.
Nowadays it is easy to be caught up in the living now and miss where our true hope should be: Now let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. This is often reflected in our preaching – how many sermons have you heard about living well today, compared to the number of sermons on the return of Christ. Yet throughout church history, particularly in times of revival, the church looked to Christ’s return. It was the imminence of his return that spurred them on to preach and share the gospel with an urgency.
We are not simply waiting for the resurrected Christ to return, we are waiting for Jesus in all his glory. The apostle John, as a young man saw the feet of Jesus rise up to heaven. As an old man he saw the same Christ whom he had laid his head on, but this time it was Christ in all his glory. Jesus tells us to watch and be ready for his return. That sounds pretty important.
I was surprised that the importance of devotions and the value of scripture did not make it on to this list. Reflecting on why, it’s not that these things are not important (we have written a lot about these things and see them as vital to spiritual growth). Instead, I think these things will be a natural next step for our children to engage with when they truly encounter Jesus for themselves. To put it another way these items of doing will be a natural overflow of being. I am sure at different times these items would have been on my top four list! So anyway, this list is by no means definitive, but I hope it is thought provoking. What would be on your list of the top four things we should teach our children?