The other day, I had a conversation with a friend about the challenges children at this present time endure even at a young age. Between the shootings that have occurred at elementary schools, child prostitution, and unlimited, uncensored access to information, without a doubt our children are being raised in a different world than we were.
I couldn’t believe it when five years ago, I had a student in Kindergarten tell me I was having my first baby “out of order”. I asked her what she meant. She replied, “Mrs. Chavez you’re supposed to have children before you’re married. You’re doing it backwards.” I honestly thought she was confused and was having trouble communicating her point; but she went further to clarify her previous statement. When I tried to share the reason I chose marriage first, she mumbled in disagreement because she sincerely felt like I was doing the wrong thing.
When we were young, we knew when something was wrong because it was clearly distinguishable from what we were taught was right. Yet, nowadays those lines between right and wrong are exceedingly blurred. Sometimes our children find what is defined as right and wrong is open for interpretation, up for debate, or based on a matter of context. They can easily get confused and lost in it all. I’m sure we can all share trials and temptations we faced when we were young; but the vast majority of what our children are dealing with or being confronted with is something former generations have never seen.
Last summer, I took my son to play at the park. While there I took a moment to sit down on a bench and nurse my daughter. As I watched my son, he began a conversation with another young boy (perhaps two years older than my son). As I ease-dropped on their conversation I thought they were conversing over their age difference since I overheard my son counting. Moments later the boy left and my son ran to me confused. Apparently, what I thought was an innocent, childlike conversation was actually a discussion about age and death. I couldn’t believe my ears! I had to spend the rest of the evening trying to explain to my two-year-old son the definition of death and life. For that young boy to bring up death at a playground setting, it must have been on his mind and heart. I don’t know if he recently had a death in his family or saw something on the news. Either way it’s naive for us to think that our children are not being exposed to deep issues (some with adult-like content) at a younger age than we were.
Both of the examples I shared are on the “lighter” side of the severity of what children are up against today. If we still need to be convinced of the perilous times our children are being raised in, we can turn on the news, look at our children’s news feed on Facebook or simply take a moment to hear the conversations our children are having with one another, we would be amazed by the mature discussions. My heart breaks for the children of this generation, particularly those that are unaware of God and His true character. Many of them don’t know where to turn when their lives start crashing in; so, they go to drugs, alcohol, gangs, crime, sex or even suicide for a release from their heartaches. They have lost all hope! Once hope is lost, it makes the heart sick (Prov 13:12)! In Proverbs 18:14, the Bible refers to how the body can withstand a broken bone or recover from sickness, but a broken spirit is difficult to bear. How can our babies heal from a broken spirit, if they don’t even know God-the Healer and Creator of our spirit? How can they find a way of escape, when their world is crashing in all around them? We, their parents, need to teach them about the “way-maker”. We need to show them Jesus.
Parents of my generation have deliberately shied away from attending church or teaching their children about the Bible because they don’t want to force their children to do so. They think they’re saving them from the misery they experienced as children being dragged to church every Sunday and weeknight Bible Study. Yet what these parents have experienced is religion and strict dogma. It’s unfortunate they missed the benefit of it all…a relationship with a loving God. I can agree our children don’t need a religiously inspired list of rules of do’s and don’ts. In fact, rules without a relationship (with the rule maker) leads to rebellion. It’s unfortunate, these kids are being raised godless and without any knowledge of a Savior, in an effort to keep them from being “forced” into religion. Generations are being raised without a clue of who Jesus is, what the Bible says or the benefits of attending church and it’s hurting them.
Why Share Jesus With Our Children? Why Take them to Church? Why Read to Them the Bible? Here are 3 major reasons why sharing the Gospel with your children will equip them with tools to be successful in these perilous times:
- It Prepares Them for Life. The reality is life in this world is not going to get easier. There are darker days ahead but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope of a brighter future made available to our children. The only way our future generations are going to succeed is if they are properly equipped. Only the Gospel can provide them with the tools that will guarantee victory in every trial! Jesus can give them peace when they’re feeling stressed (John 14:27). When they feel inadequate, Christ reassures them they can make it (Phil 4:13). When they are broken, they need to know God can heal their brokenness, in fact, He heals better than any shot of tequila or hit on a joint (Ps 34:18, Ps 147:3). When they are up against disappointments, failures or naysayers they need to know God can pick them up, encourage them and set them on a successful path despite what others may thinking (Is 40:31, Jer 29:11, 1 Peter 5:7).
- It’ll Save You from Heartache. It is most disheartening when you get a call from the Principal that your child was caught with drugs in his/her locker or worse, your child calls saying they’ve been locked up in jail and they need you to bail them out. When the Word of God is deeply rooted in the heart of an individual, God’s word helps them make better decisions, choose friends with a positive influence, hold them accountable when we, the parents are not around, and it keeps them out of danger (Ps 119:11, Ps 121:7, Prov 2:6). Sharing with your children the Gospel will literally save you money, pain and heartache! 3 John 1:4 says, “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.” If we want to experience this great joy, we need to help our children know the truth so they can follow it.
- It Sets Them Up for Success. If we train our children to hear from God and follow His Word, we position them for the blessings of God, the peace of God, the favor of God, the protection of God and all of the other benefits that are tied in with righteous living to be upon them (Deut.6:5-7, Deut 28:1-13). Our children will be happier, more prosperous and enjoy life more than if they did not know God, know the Bible or experience “real” church. I love this promise in Isaiah 43:13 ESV it says, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” I want my children to have great peace when the storms of life come crashing in on them.
In Proverbs 22:6 it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” When God said we are to “train up” our children, He means we are to teach, instruct, coach, tutor, educate, drill, indoctrinate, discipline, and make them prepared. If you’re thinking, how am I supposed to do all these things? In the Bible, we can find direction for every situation for our lives. Deuteronomy 6:5,7 tells us,” …you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” God wants us to lead our children by our example and to actively make reading the Bible part of our regular routine.
Let me emphasize, we cannot depend on the world, the government, the school systems or even the church to raise our children. Matthew 10:22 tells us the world will hate us because we are followers of Christ. Can we depend on what hates us to lovingly guide and train our children? Absolutely not! It’s not the responsibility of our children’s teachers at school, Sunday school instructors or even the government to raise our children. We, the parents, were ordained by God to teach them diligently. Let’s take full responsibility of our role and train our children in the way they should go. Let’s take our children to church, demonstrate to them how to pray, how to give in an offering, how to praise and worship God, and how to seek Him.
I want to address the concern mentioned earlier. “What if we’re forcing religion on our children?” When training our children in the way they should “biblically” go, we’re not forcing them. If God cannot force them, we cannot. In fact, we know we cannot force anyone to do anything! Although my parents taught me about following after God, I had to make that decision for myself. I had to decide if I was going to live for God or live my own way. If God wanted us all to be forced to love him, he would have never given us free will. We would all be mindlessly attending church, reading our bibles, praying and worshiping without question. Yet God desires genuine love in return for his unconditional affection. One day our children will need to make the decision for themselves on how they will decide to live. Satan will make sure that our children will question all that we taught them concerning God’s Word. We are merely helping them make an informed decision and showing them what life can look like with Christ. The world will show what life is without Christ. This is why we need to be the example for our children and train them, not just an arrow pointing in the right direction. Our delivery of Christ could mean everything. We can draw them closer to God or further away. We can set them up for success or leave them searching for hope. Let’s equip them for success, by giving them the Gospel.
I pray you were encouraged by this post. I’m passionate about our children and the struggles many of them go through. I want them to know there’s hope in Jesus. I’m praying for you, your family and our world. May God bless you and keep you all. ~Angelita