**This post is part of the current series “Who Was Jesus? Practical Ways to Teach Our Children About Who Christ IS” You can find the entire series linked up here when we are done.**
Jesus was and is the son of God. He is the Christ, the Messiah. He fulfilled prophecies that pointed to no one but Him. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He overcame temptation. He took authority over sin and radically changed lives. He hung out and recruited sinners and pointed them in a new direction. He was uniquely perfect and he calls us to live uniquely for Him. But when we answer that call – to whom do we think we are answering?
The first people to hear the message of Christ were the opressed, the poor, the hopeless. And if you really think about it – that’s what we are without Jesus. And yes, he changed lives, but he never promised that following him would be fun or easy….
Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily & follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:23-27 (NIV)
So how do we explain to our children that they are to look to Jesus as the ultimate example of how to live if we are not taking up our crosses? Every day we come into contact with different types of people. We all have some sort of sphere of influence, starting with our immediate family. Inside of this sphere, we may have run into people who flat out reject us when we begin to talk about Christ. Jesus Christ most certainly faced rejection, but He did not let it move Him from what He came to do. He did not decide to change who He was because He was not getting his point across.
In Matthew 19:23-30, Jesus tells the man to go and sell everything he own to follow him. 3-30. When the man walks away sorrowful, we don’t read anything else. We don’t read about how the man might have changed his mind days later, or how Jesus turned back 30 minutes later and said… oh ok, nevermind… come follow me anyway and heck… bring all your stuff. Christ gives us free will to choose him or to not choose him. period.
So how do we go about teaching our children to have the same character. To not waiver in the face of confrontation. To stand strong in what they believe to be right. To live passionately and uniquely for Christ?
Here are a few tangible suggestions…
1. Pray with your children. Pray outloud and in front of them that they will develop the character of Christ.
2. Talk with them about the difficulties of being a Christian. Make sure that they know that it is not always blessings and roses and that not everyone that they come in contact with will share the same belief (like reading the story from Matthew 19 above), and that it is not our job or theirs to be that person’s Holy Spirit. We can only simply introduce them to Christ and tell them or show them the difference Christ has made in our own lives.
3. If your church has an outreach ministry (our church has something called FAITH teams, where people go door to door to witness to others), take your child on an outing so he or she can see other to people about Christ. The more your children see you discuss and explain your faith in Christ with others, the more your child will understand who you are asking him to believe in.
4. Go on a mission trip with your children. Taking your children to impoverished countries will open their eyes at God’s greatness.
5. If you have older children, consider going along on a prison ministry outreach – or helping to prepare for one. Your child can learn alot from talking to those who talk with prisoners about Christ on a weekly basis.
6. Sponsor a child from a program like Compassion.com. Help your child write letters to the sponsored child about the love of Christ.
7. Visit sites like http://www.ijm.org/takeaction to find out how you can volunteer to take action for Christ.
Jesus calls us to come out of our comfort zone and experience fear with Him by our side. It can sometimes be a challenge to know Jesus because we might not want to go where He is. Jesus said “Those that are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick that need one” (Mark 2:17). Go where Jesus is… with the poor, the orphans, the hurting, the opressed, the cripled, the lost. See how He will get to know YOU more in the process. Know Him by going to Him.
Father God I pray that my children will come to know you deeply. I pray that when they come face to face with others who question their faith that they will know you strongly enough to explain who you are. I pray that they stand strong and do not waiver. I pray that they do not change who they are to please other people, but that you would change them because they want to please YOU. In Jesus name, amen!