Monday, 1 July 2013

Whose Job? Part 3: Dulling down our Kids

I love this quote from D.L Moody, a preacher in the late 1800's:

"It is a masterpiece of the devil to make us believe that children cannot understand religion. Would Christ have made a child the standard of faith if He had known that it was not capable of understanding His words?"
 In other words, Jesus told his disciples (and that includes us if we follow him) to have faith like children.  Would he have said this if he thought that children couldn't understand his words?

Now, I know from bitter experience that very often children 'seem' to not understand our words.  Selective deafness is a well-known and very frustrating condition that many children (including mine, regularly) suffer with.  Actually, I think the parents suffer more than the children.  It mostly occurs when I say "time to turn the screens off" or "make sure you lift the toilet seat up before you.... oh, too late". 

But when talking to our children about our faith, I think we often lower our expectations.  Perhaps we miss out the bits we think they won't understand.  Sometimes, I think these missing bits are vital to their faith but because we don't want to make anything sound weird or freaky, we exclude them from our discussions.  We dull down the exciting, mind-blowing riches that God has given us because we aren't sure that our children can quite cope with it yet.  If we don't teach our children those all-important truths, what we are actually doing is giving them a false gospel.  Life as a follower of Jesus is thrilling.  If we teach our children the 'head knowledge' but don't allow them any experience of God when they are young, it's like having Christmas without the presents.  We all know it's Christmas day, but we're not going to make a big fuss about it.

Of course, faith, particularly with children, is a journey and we will not understand everything immediately.  We can't expect to suddenly understand every theological concept in the Bible.  But we can expect our children to understand and experience more.  In fact, they often accept biblical truths more than we do because they don't have all our hang-ups.

Let's teach our children to hear from God when they are young.  Let's get them baptised in the Holy Spirit before they enter their difficult teenage years.  It will be a vital piece of their armour to get them through.  Let's get them praying for healings and miracles.  Let's teach them about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and see them modelling them for the rest of the church.  It's all for them!  They are not excluded!  Let's build their faith by experiences of God as well as all the vital knowledge and truth of the Bible.  Imagine the kinds of adults they will become if they have spent their childhood in the presence of God!

As adults we should be following their lead of faith, not the other way round.  Let's stop dulling down our kids and expect more of them.  We might be very surprised!

1 comment:

Miranda said...

I once heard it said that if Samuel had been given to the church today, he'd have been given a colouring rather than ministering to The Lord and sleeping by the ark of covenant. There's a lot of truth in that, I think if we expect minimal of our children, they will achieve no more. I've been reminded through the faith of my 3 year old, just how many levels the Gospel operates on, she can grasp it well enough, and yet the best bible scholar will never fully grasp it. My 3 year olds understanding owes a lot of credit to RC Sproul's brilliant gospel analogy "the priest with the dirty clothes". Our hearts are made dirty by sin, but we can only stand before God with a clean heart. Jesus took our sin/dirt on himself when he died and we put on his goodness/cleanness when we follow him.