A dear friend recently asked for my opinion about the spiritual upbringing of their child. More specifically, their question was about the role they are supposed to have as parents, and the role the local church has in assisting their children in spiritual growth. At its core, my friend’s concern for the spiritual well-being of their child was reflective of an even deeper issue that I believe most Christ-following parents grapple with: what is it going to take to pass our faith on to our kids?
There have been countless books written, conferences held, and sermon series preached on this very subject. But I believe the answer can be narrowed down into one main point, which I believe is the most important ingredient of all. We will unpack this main point in a total of three short blog posts. Here is the point I want to drive home: We must lead our kids spiritually by example.
Our children will see on a daily basis what it means to be a follower of Jesus as they observe our behaviors, choices, and habits, as they listen to our conversations, as they see how we treat each other, and as they watch us interact with other people. Likewise, they will also see if we only have a Sunday morning faith that isn’t backed up by our Monday through Saturday way of life.
In other words, our children, to a large degree, will draw many of their own conclusions about Jesus based on how we live. This does not mean that they will choose Jesus, even in the best of households. Many people grow up in Christian families and turn their backs on God entirely later in life. But this does not relieve us from the responsibility of making sure Jesus is at the center of our homes.
Since we are unpacking into three different blogs our main point of what it means to lead by example, we must have a clear starting point from which to build upon. So we will start at square one: In order to lead our kids by example, we must first be sure we ourselves have a relationship with Jesus Christ. The reason we must start here is pretty obvious. We cannot give to our kids what we do not possess. If you are uncertain about where you are with Jesus or have questions about how to begin a relationship with Him, it is worth our while to look at what the Scriptures say about this all important subject. I have summarized this into six main points for consideration.
- God created you for a purpose, and that purpose is for you to have a relationship with Him. Hard to grasp, isn’t it? Yet, His plan for your life is not complete without coming to know Him personally. Listen to what Jesus Himself prayed in John 17:3. “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3 NLT).
- There is something that keeps us from having a relationship with God. The Bible calls it sin. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT). Sin is not a list of rules we break, but is an attitude toward God that basically says, “God, you run the universe, and I will run my life. Thank you very much!” Sin is living for me and not for my Creator and his purposes.
3. The Bible goes one step further and describes the consequences of choosing to live our life apart from God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NLT). The wages, that is, the penalty of living our life for ourselves and not for God, is death. The word death in this verse includes physical death, which was a curse brought to the human race because of sin, and eternal separation from God.
4. Knowing there was nothing we could do for ourselves to fix this situation between us and God, He did something on our behalf. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the ultimate price for our wrongdoing. “Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God” (1 Peter 3:18 NLT). Christ’s death was necessary in order to satisfy the wrath of God toward sin. “For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 NLT).
5. We are left with a choice. Remember the verse we looked at above, Romans 6:23? The second half of that verse is very important. “But the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Suppose I had a $100 bill in my hand and I wanted to give it to you with no strings attached. Chances are you would have a hard time accepting it because you did nothing to earn it. It is the same way with God’s gift of forgiveness through Jesus. We struggle to accept it because we think we have to do something to earn it, or we have to go out and clean up our life first. But the gift of God’s forgiveness and eternal life is available to all and is found in a relationship with Jesus. It is up to us to receive Him. “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NLT).
6. You can make the choice right now, wherever you are, to become a follower of Jesus and to receive Him into your life. He makes this very simple. The Scripture says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved” (Romans 10:13 NLT).
You see, every relationship has a definite beginning. Take my relationship with my wife, Shannon, for instance. On June 25, 1994, we tied the knot. I even have the ring to prove it! There is no doubt, no question in my mind that on that day, our marriage relationship began.
Your relationship with God is no different. You need a definite starting point with Him. And this is what the Scriptures emphasize. “As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation”(2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NLT).
To begin a relationship with God, you can simply to talk to him in prayer, just as you would talk to a friend, and express to Him your Your heartfelt desire to receive Him into your life. Your prayer can even be something like this:
“Dear God, I believe you have a plan and purpose for my life, and that purpose is for me to know you. I admit that I am a sinner and have run my own life until now. And today, I resign. Please forgive me of this and of all my wrongdoings. I believe when you died on the cross, it was for me, and I believe you rose again. I accept your free gift of eternal life. I want to live for you from now on. In Jesus name I pray, amen.”
If you have decided to pray this as an expression of your heart to God, I want to be the first to congratulate you in beginning your relationship with Him. This is the start to a brand new life He has for you. And the exciting part is that you now have the opportunity to pass this gift of God’s salvation to your children. Once we are certain that our relationship with Jesus is in place, we can then focus on living out that relationship as an example to our kids of what it means to walk with God. We will continue to unpack what this means in the next two blogs.
In the meantime, if you have placed your faith in Jesus for the first time today after reading this blog, would you please let me or someone you know and trust, learn of your decision? Or perhaps you still have questions about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. You can leave a comment below, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be glad to assist you in any way possible.
It could be that you have already established your relationship with God and you know someone who could benefit from this encouraging post. Give it a share in your social media feeds! You never know how God can use His word to impact a life, and you can be a part of that!
Until next time…