I was raised by a mother who highly esteems the word of God. She has always stressed the importance of knowing and faithfully living it. So it doesn’t surprise me that I developed an interest and desire to know what the Word says and to understand how to apply it to the challenges of life. What has surprised me though, is just how critical a commitment to understand the applicability of God’s instructions has become in raising children, particularly once they hit those unpredictable teen years.
My 17-year-old son, as my mother often says, “doesn’t take any wooden nickels.” He is not easily convinced…of anything. We’ve had rigorous conversations around such topics as:
The Sabbath: “Why would you pick that time to shut everything down? That’s prime time for hanging out.”
The true nature of Christianity: “I want to follow Jesus, I just don’t like Christianity.” “Church is just not that interesting.”
The nature of sin & what our salvation means: Since I’m saved, why do I still struggle so much with wanting to do what I want to do?
The Sovereignty of God: ” God led us into this situation, so why is it so hard and why doesn’t He help us?”
Justice: “The whole Trayvon Martin thing is messed up. There’s so much racism in this country.”
When my sons were younger, I assumed (ha!) that I would tell them how vital the Bible is, show them how to read and study it, and they would pretty much accept it. I have no idea why I thought such foolishness, but in hindsight I realize that must be how I felt because it felt like a wrecking ball walloped me once they started asking really hard questions…and looking to me for answers.
In the last five years or so, it has hit home like never before what a tremendous responsibility the truth is. I’m accountable not just to know it for myself, but also to teach it to my children–not in that Sunday school, dressed up for church kind of way, but in a grit and grind, loosen your tie, pull off your panty hose, roll up your sleeves kind of way. So many times and places in the Word entreat us to soberly heed our responsibilities:
- Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15
- I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. Jude 1:3
- Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 1 Pet. 3:15
- So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them 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. Deut. 11:18-19
- We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issued His laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them—even the children not yet born—and they in turn will teach their own children. Psalm 78:4-6
We need to know the word, not just to evangelize and disciple our neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and perfect strangers; and not only to sign petitions against homosexual marriage, abortion, indecent television and movies, and other opposition to cultural waywardness. We also need to know it because the course of our generations depends on how faithfully we hand down an accurate faith to our sons and daughters. I feel the call–urgently–to pour my intellectual, emotional, and spiritual energy into reading, studying, understanding, and praying the word of God so that my sons will have a fair shot at developing a robust, prevailing faith to help them withstand the pressures and dilemmas they face.
My three simplest suggestions for doing this:
- Read the bible rigorously, not just devotionally.
- Pray always to receive understanding and wisdom (sometimes we forget about this step).
- Identify 3-4 solid, reliable bible teachers (men and women) and connect with them by downloading resources from their websites, listening to their broadcasts, and if possible purchasing studies and commentaries.
Are we living up to our responsibility? Lord, please help us to do it.