"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." Deut 6:6-7
There are unfortunately many times when the unpopularity of the faith finds its most significant expression among our own children. As we teach our kids everything they know about life, from their first steps and words, to avoiding electrical sockets and hot irons to looking both ways when the cross the street, to how to deal with heartbreak, we spend a significant part of our lives preparing them to live theirs. Naturally when we attend worship, we bring them along, send them to their classes, take them to vacation bible school and work side by side with them on church work days or visiting the sick.
Somewhere along the way, however, the world intrudes into this idyllic existence. They discover that there are people out there that are their age that do not necessarily share the same beliefs with which they were raised. They discover that there is music out there that attracts them despite their questionable lyrics. There is alcohol, cigarettes, coarse language, drugs, sex and homosexuality. And because their friends and what those friends think is cool becomes more and more important in their lives, an erosion of everything we have tried to teach them about God and righteousness begins to erode. It is then when the kids begin to question the existence of God, not because He is not real, but because in their minds, He stands against everything that has become increasingly important to them.
Beloved, many parents are experiencing these very things every day. Some even try home schooling in order to limit outside influences but have found that Satan is pervasive, persistent and patient. There are three things we must remember. First, give your children the best biblical and spiritual foundation possible. Ensure that they develop their own relationship with God and that He is much or more a part of their reality as your love for them. From this they will never depart. Second, guard them as much as you can. Watch TV, listen to music, read books and pursue other entertainment and activities with them while teaching them what is acceptable and good and what is not. Third, understand that the world will break in. Just remember your own youth and the first time you tried ________. It is absolutely inevitable. And lastly, stay with your child through their mistakes and experimentation. The purpose is not to approve what they do, but to love them through it come what may. Constantly encourage them toward the faith and constantly remind them of the spiritual and biblical lessons with which they were raised. Remind them that God is and that He loves them and that you do too.
Heartbreak is an unavoidable hazard of parenting, but we can mitigate the loss of our children to Satan by following these steps. Certainly others involve seeking the counsel of your trusted clergyman, fellowshipping with other parents and families and always, always, always seeking the Lord in prayer. Our children are truly under attack. Let us protect them with the same vigor that we always have against all threats. God will help.
Rejoicing in the Lord,
*Originally published as "The Unpopularity of the Faith (pt. III)