In this week’s podcast we discuss how we can raise young people who love God. As parents our job is to Love God in front of our kids. We don’t need to be perfect, to have a degree in theology, or to make sure we keep up with all Pinterest Jones’ out there. We walk out our faith in front of our kids — showing our need and showing how God meets it every day.
This is why Jesus tells the Pharisees that he didn’t come for the healthy, but for the sick. His desire is for everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), but only those who see their desperate need and turn to Him will be made new. (John 3:15-16, 2 Cor. 5:17)
The way I like to think about this is that the Gospel is more “caught” than “taught”. As parents this means our kids will best love God when they see God actively working in the broken lives of their parents. A kid who sees their Dad love their Mom because Jesus changed his heart is going to want more of that in his life. A kid who sees their Mom find her identity in being a child of a heavenly father who loves her, not in her ability to stack up, is going to see themselves differently.
The way we love God is the first thing kids will look to when we talk about God and the Gospel. Just think of anyone you’ve ever talked to who hates God or doesn’t believe there is a God: They will have plenty of stories about people who knew all the right verses but didn’t live it out in humility — their knowledge stayed in their heads and didn’t get to their hearts.
Jesus tells us to way: “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.” He means that we can tell our kids about God, we can fill their fertile minds with scripture and good teaching, but God is going to make it grow.
Paul puts himself into the analogy as an apostle, someone ordained by God to share the gospel, and says he doesn’t deserve any credit for the fruit because “neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Cor. 3:7) He’s empowered by the Holy Spirit for the very mission of sharing the gospel, and even he doesn’t have the power to make someone believe.
What does this mean for us raising kids who love God? It means we follow the advice of St. Francis of Assisi, we “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary use words.” As parents we have the chance to plant seeds in the hearts and minds of children that will encourage them and be strength in hard times. Many of us can remember a crisis in our own lives when a seed planted long ago came to life and reminded us of God’s goodness or urged us to press further into His love rather than to despair.
When we love God in front of our kids we give them a testimony, a story of God working that is beyond knowledge and founded firmly in experience. We can love our children today knowing God loves them more, and our job is to lovingly point them back to the God, the author and perfecter of our faith.