ISSUES OF FAITH: Make disciples of children in teaching God’s word

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. — ESV Psalm 119:105

YES, IT’S SEPTEMBER. As hard as it is to believe, we are at the threshold of a new academic year.

For those who are a little older, new beginnings take place in January, and with it comes New Year’s resolutions.

For young children on the other hand, as they lace up their new shoes, take the tags off their new clothes and throw their new backpacks over their shoulders, all things seem new.

With things being new, often what comes is rededication to the tasks at hand. They seem ready to sit, listen and learn … at least for a couple minutes.

What happened to that eagerness to learn? Somewhere down the road, many of us have lost the fever to sharpen our minds, continue to grow, and expose ourselves to more and more information. It is as if we are content with being in the dark.

As I thought about how so many little ones are making new beginnings this time of the year, I wondered how we, who are a little older, might be able to harness this enthusiasm for ourselves once again.

Instead of remaining in the darkness and loneliness of biblical illiteracy, immerse ourselves in the Word of Truth, which revives the soul, is the source of true wisdom, and causes one’s heart to rejoice. (Psalm 19:7-11)

Year after year, I find myself asking the youths of our congregation the simple question, “What is the most important thing a parent does for their child?”

Of course the kids answer in a variety of ways; they list off things like “they feed them,” “they buy clothing” or “they make sure their children go to school.”

All of those things are very important. However, they pale in comparison to the single most important responsibility of parents: to immerse their children in God’s Word (Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Matthew 19:13-15).

As Christians, we profess that we have been given the commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) but fail at making disciples of our own children. I have children. I know what trouble they would get into if left to their own imagination.

Leaving them to themselves to find meaning for their lives, direction for their actions and truth in a world of lies is not an option and should never be.

But what option are we giving them when we teach them that they must study, go to bed early, wake up early, eat breakfast and get to school on time for a knowledge that will pass away but let them sleep in, disregard and neglect the eternal Gospel which is the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16)? What are we teaching them when they witness us doing the same thing?

I have read a lot of things, seen a lot of things, heard a lot of things and experienced a lot of things in this life, but there is only one thing that will carry me, or anyone, throughout this life (from their cradle to their grave and beyond). That one thing is faith in Christ Jesus given and sustained in his word (Romans 6:23, 10:17).

Heaven and earth will pass away, but the word of the Lord will remain forever (Matthew 24:35). Our days are filled with appointments, meals, work and sacrifices, yet man cannot live on bread alone (Matthew 4:4), and what we will gain if we all die millionaires but have never known true riches (Matthew 16:26)?

It is high time for it to take the place of prominence it deserves in our lives as we revere it as the supreme authority in all of creation (Isaiah 45:5-6).

Yes, it is September. It is a time for new beginnings for our children as they prepare for class and all things that come with a new school year. Perhaps this can be a new beginning for us as well.

Perhaps we shall all strive to resurrect a sense of purpose in pointing others to Scripture, especially in our own homes. Let’s all begin the process with resurrecting it in ourselves, exposing ourselves to the word of God, which is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).

Let us show our children that our exposure to God’s truth is at least as important as academic work by getting up, coming to Bible class and worship, and being fed by the one thing that never changes (Isaiah 40:8).

There is no greater gift you could give your child or yourself than exposure to the word and its power. Find for yourself a church, an extension of the Body of Christ, which boldly proclaims the truth that the Bible is the word of God, not simply contains it (2 Timothy 3:16).

Blessings on you as you learn, live and bask in the light of the word (John 8:12).

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Patrick Lovejoy is minister of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or [email protected]

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