“I don’t want to force my kids to go to church.” “I want them to make that decision on their own.” This is a common point of view today. One may blame the progressive left, and another may blame the alternative right that loves to live against restrictions and law. How about we remove all points of view except for the Word of God! This is a little more than a point of contention with me – as a father and a pastor.
There are some of the same people that want their 7-year-old (no, I do not have anyone specific in mind) to choose to go (or not) to church that complains about how we, as a nation have removed God from the schools! How dare we place the Creator of all we see into a box that would keep Him out of schools!
But I regress! For the first point, let’s address the decisions we, as parents, allow our kids to make. I am an aging man and my memory is not what it used to be, but I cannot remember my parents allowing me to make decisions for myself on anything much less my spiritual life! I promised a Biblical point of view so I will lean on the book that emits the most wisdom in my humble opinion – Proverbs. No, boys and girls, I am not pointing to the one that states to spare the rod and spoil the child (that may come up in a future post!). One of the most popular verses in the ministry to children is Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I use the NASB version as it is the closest in a word for word translation. I do like the Message version of this same verse. It states to point them in the right direction so they will not be lost when they are older. This does not mean they will choose to follow Jesus but that they will not forget what they are taught when they are young.
Allow me to segway into testimony from my personal life. When I was deployed with the United States Navy, my mother would send me a postcard or letter from time to time. It always had a proverb that started with the words “My Son.” I was in no way living as God has called me to do and had for all extensive purposes walked away from Him and the life He called me to. These cards and notes always came in that reminded me of those seeds my parents sowed into my life every time they took me to church. They reminded me of the time they leaned on the church and God’s Word after a car accident that would have torn the majority of great marriages apart. See, I did not have a decision or a voice in the decision of whether or not I was going to be in church! Paul wrote in Ephesians that we are to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (6:4). We are instructed many other places to disciple our children. When they reach that age of accountability, they can now make the decision on their own.
For those that complain that we have removed God from our schools, I say we have removed God from our homes! The moment my child or any child that I teach walks into school, the God I serve walks in with them! God will not stop at the door and ask for permission to enter! How sure am I of this? I know the parents or guardians of the children I teach and stand firmly on the fact they all lift them in prayer. We all believe that He will never leave or forsake us and will be with you till the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). I remember some walls around a city that tried to keep God out but all it took was some prayer, praise, and obedience by His people to allow God into the center of that city so well defended!
So, allow me to leave you with those three words. Pray, praise and obey. Pray for your kids, praise the God who blessed you with them and obey His instruction to take your kids to church and disciple them. If we place God as the center of our family, we can rest in the fact He is not removed from our schools. We can rest on the promise that when they get old, they will not become lost.