My wife and I are very intentional about teaching our son about our faith. Some may not agree, but passing on our faith is important to us. I don’t want my son to flounder or wander when it comes to knowing how much Jesus loves him. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he will, but I don’t want him to. My dream is that he will never know a day where he doesn’t know Jesus. Not one part of me desires for my son to have the sexy, “I woke up in a ditch after a binge and saw Jesus and never touched alcohol again,” testimony. I want him to have the equally powerful, “I’ve never not known Jesus and it has changed my life,” testimony.
So we teach him about the faith. About Jesus. About love. About grace. About obedience. About the cross. About resurrection. About prayer.
Every night, when I put him to bed, we read a story from the Storybook Bible, and then I tuck him in. I sing a song. Lately, he wants me to make up a song about cookies. Tonight, he wanted one about muffins. And then we pray. Sometimes he prays. Sometimes I pray. Whoever prays about what we are thankful and what we would like Jesus to help us with. But when I pray, I also pray he would know how much Jesus loves him and that he would learn to love others like Jesus.
You see, what we teach our kids matters.
I do not want to teach my son that God hates liars. You know why? It isn’t that God doesn’t hate lying. It’s that one day my son is going to realize he is a liar. And if God hates liars, who does God hate?
You see? What we teach our kids matters.
If my son is taught God hates liars and then realizes he is a liar, where is he going to run? To God? Or from God?
So when I teach my son about God, I teach him about God’s love embodied in Jesus. That baptismal love that pours out and washes over us. No, he doesn’t understand that yet. But when he sings “Jesus Loves Me” with that innocent earnestness, I believe he knows more than me. That innocence is fragile. There is coming a day in which he will wonder whether Jesus really does love him. On that day, the image of God he holds in his mind will be so very important. Will God be the tyrant? Angry towards, and hating all sinners? Manipulative dictator? A judge who withholds grace? Only able to see brokenness? A dispenser of shame?
Or grace-filled? Extravagant lover? Giver of every good and perfect gift? Father who welcomes the prodigal? Passionate, ruthless pursuer of his image-bearing son?
You see. What we teach our kids matters.
I talk to my son about his favorite things. Trees, birds, bugs, water and fish. I ask him how much he likes that stuff. I ask him who made that stuff. And then my favorite part. I ask him why God made that stuff.
So you, my son, can enjoy.
Those words carry a deep truth to be learned. The truth is, I’m not sure I’m the one saying those words. Those words, “So you, my son, can enjoy,”…those words sound like the words of the Father who created all things as he speaks over my son.
Over his son.
Do you see?