If you have been working with your children on our year long challenge to teach them to live more like Jesus, they are hopefully developing some great new habits. You may be wondering about this month’s challenge though. Why is it important for our children to know how to ask meaningful questions and listen to the answers with love?
Jesus set a wonderful example by reaching out to the marginalized people of his day. No real religious leader at the time would want to have been seen with tax collectors and prostitutes. Yet, Jesus knew their hearts and spent time with them. He didn’t just meet their physical needs though. He spent time in their houses (Luke 19:5).
Sometimes we forget Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen. They didn’t have university degrees, nor did most of the people they taught. We don’t know how long the sermon lasted on the Day of Pentecost, but what is recorded is not very long or very complex. Yet, many of us are terrified to share our faith because we don’t think we know enough.
I understand there are some people who may want to get into deep philosophical discussions about religion. The funny thing is, God only cares about the heart. The heart that really wants to follow God and obey Him will be drawn to the simplicity of the message. In fact, God’s message is so simple you can easily teach your children how to share their faith.
If you are following our 12-month challenge to teach your children to live more like Jesus, this month we are focusing on teaching our children to tell others about God. The early Church grew quickly and spread throughout the known world in a very short time. One would think with the internet, airplanes and SKYPE, conversions today would be happening at breakneck speed. Yet now, many of our churches are shrinking instead of growing.
The reasons the church supposedly isn’t growing fascinate me. “Our message sounds outdated.” “We ask people to give up too much.” “It is too hard for people to understand.” “We can’t compete.” If we could only make the Gospel more fun, more exciting, easier. Then we could convert people as quickly as they did in the first century.
Most non-profits will tell you one of their biggest battles is convincing people to no longer be apathetic about the social problem their group is trying to address. Many spend countless hours and dollars developing ways to help people understand the urgency of the problem. Groups like charity: water and Toms have actually done a great job of informing and engaging people about their mission with creativity and style.
We know our world is filled with more problems than we can count. We know God commands us to serve others and teach them about God. The pure enormity of the problem is overwhelming. So overwhelming, most people become apathetic. It is easier to block out all of the problems and opportunities and focus on our little world, where we feel like we have more control. The problem is, not only are we not in control of anything, the problems of the greater world can become so large they begin to invade our personal worlds. I think everyone learned that lesson in very real and horrible ways during World War II.
Let’s face it. To dedicate your children to God means you have to be radically different from the people in your community. Sadly, you may very well have to be willing to be radically different from the people in your Church. The very idea of standing out from the crowd and perhaps even challenging the crowd, makes most Christians settle for living a life that is ordinary.
Somewhere along the line, we have lost the willingness to be different and put everything on the line for God. We are afraid of being teased, unpopular or having people gossip about our unusual behavior and choices. Frankly, I am not even sure we would know what putting everything on the line for God would look like in our comfortable American lives.