The ABC’s of Teaching Lifelong Faith
Do you remember the first time you shared the gospel story with your own children? How you brought your little ones before the throne of the Lord and introduced them to Jesus? How easily they accepted God’s love. How naturally they believed that the Creator of the universe also created them, and wants to live with them in heaven for eternity. It makes perfect sense to a child that God alone is perfect, and that we aren’t. With simple faith at very tender ages, kids open their hearts and trust that God sent His son to die on the cross for sin.
Children don’t usually waste a lot of time with doubt. They don’t get caught up in the deep theological questions that entangle us grown-ups. The faith of a child isn’t choked by cynicism, guilt or fear. They freely receive God’s love, and freely return it. No wonder Jesus admonished the disciples when they tried to block the children from coming close. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV). Who are these? The ones with child-like faith. Quiet, simple, humble faith. Those who don’t question His love, His power, His sovereignty. Children, who readily believe.
But once the message of salvation has been taught to our kids, our job of guiding their spiritual journey has just begun. To help our kids maintain a life of faith, we must intentionally teach them how to choose Jesus as they grow. Keep these ABC’s in mind to help develop healthy spiritual habits and guide your kids to a life of enduring commitment to Christ.
A stands for Ask. Kids need to know that it’s okay to ask questions. The older they get the more questions they will have. Things will happen that they can’t understand. Tough circumstances will come up and they won’t be sure what to do. They must know without a doubt that they can ask God anything. Their questions won’t make Him mad or disappointed. Nothing is too big or too difficult for Him. As parents we don’t have all the answers for our kids, but He does. Make sure your children know that prayer is not a magical list of wishes or an inventory of sin, but a real conversation with a loving God. So go ahead, ask. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt” (James 1:5-6, NIV).
B stands for Bring. In order to continue walking with Jesus on this earth, our kids should know that God wants them to bring everything to Him. He created them, He knows them, He desires relationship with them. All that we have and all that we are can be brought to Jesus. The true character of God should be continually reinforced to our kids; he is a good father. We are His children, and He is a gracious, loving, compassionate dad. We bring our hurts. We bring our dreams. We bring our doubts. We bring our worries. We bring our praise. We bring our failures. And he loves us just the same. “For I am convinced that neither… the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39, NIV).
C stands for Call. Let’s ensure our kids know how reliable our God is by making sure they realize He can be called anywhere, anytime. As our children grow, the more time they will naturally spend away from us. They go to school. They play on teams. They have friends and jobs and activities. They will increasingly have other influences. Our kids need to know that their relationship with Christ is not dependent on being with us or their home life, but it is dependent on their heart. Kids should be in the habit of calling on God in any and every situation. No matter where they are or who they are with, God is ready to be by their side. We can foster a confident, faith-filled walk with God by relaying the Lord’s faithfulness to our kids. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).
Of course, there is no guarantee that our children will choose to follow Jesus as adults, but guiding them while they are young in the habits of asking Him anything, bringing him everything and calling on him in all situations may prayerfully point them in the right direction on the road to lifelong faith.