We love God, and we’d love our children to grow up knowing him and loving him themselves.
There are so many things that we’d love to teach them – we could write a list of 100 things we want our children to know about God but most of you would stop reading before the end and in any case we still wouldn’t have exhausted everything.
Instead we’ve picked 5 things. Not the 5 most important, just 5 key things.
Our children learn about God through all sorts of means: through the Christian community that we’re part of; through what they learn in kids’ church activities; through what we read with them in the Bible; through our conversations as we go about life; through watching our lives… we could go on.
But here are 5 of the things that we hope our children learn about God through all of these means.
1. God accepts our children as they are
There’s pressure all around children (and adults!) in this world to “be” something. Pressure to perform in a certain way. Pressure to be funny. Pressure to look a particular way. Pressure to be smart, or sporty, or popular.
It’s easy for children to feel weighed down by people’s expectations of who they should be, and to feel they have to live up to certain standards in order to be accepted.
The liberating reality of the gospel is that God doesn’t expect us to come to him with anything in order to accept us. He wants us to come to him as we are, warts and all, and what’s more he LOVES us as we are. Jesus has done all of the performing that we need, and has borne our inadequacies in his body on the tree. What a weight off their shoulders!
2. God wants our children to flourish
God accepts our children. Nothing will get in the way of that. And in that context of full and free acceptance, God wants our children to flourish. He wants to work in them to deal with self-destructive and other-people-hurting habits, thoughts and attitudes so that they can flourish. He does this for their good, and for the good of those around them.
What’s more, he’s created them with abilities and passions that he wants them to run with, to his glory.
Our children don’t need to set aside their ambitions, passions and gifting in order to be Christians. Rather, they can see that God has given these things to them to use for his glory, and so they can go about seeing how they can best develop and nurture them to use them for good.
Again: what a weight off their shoulders. They don’t need to prove their worth through what they achieve in life. Their worth is defined and maxed out in their unimpeachable standing as adopted children of God. So rather than seeking to prove their worth through what they can achieve, they can use their talents and gifting to bring God glory, not themselves.
3. We live in a broken world, but God is still good
It’s a guarantee that our children will one day come face-to-face with suffering and adversity. We all do. We want our children to know this, to expect this, and to be able to cope when it happens.
We want them to have a Biblical theology of suffering that doesn’t offer trite and easy answers.
We want them to weep in the face of suffering, just like Jesus.
We want them to be able (even when they don’t understand God’s purpose in suffering) to lean on their knowledge of the good character of God and his hope for this world to get them through.
4. God is trinity, and this changes everything
We want our children to know that our God is a God in three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who for eternity have existed in a relationship of love.
Why is this so important? Because out of this flows everything.
Why did God create? Not because he was lonely – because our eternally love-giving God wanted to extend this love to more, and to invite others in to the community.
How did God create us? In his image. Part of our very identity is our need for community, because we’re made like our community-God.
Why did God save us (aside from drawing us in to enjoy the loving Trinitarian community of God)? He saved us to bring us into the community of the church– we want our children to see church as a wonderful blessing that flows from the very nature of God.
We could go on, but we want our children’s vision of God to be deeply Trinitarian, and all the richer for it.
5. God is the source of joy, not a killjoy
There’ll be numerous voices in culture that will speak in opposition to the Christian worldview – that’s becoming more and more apparent. It will be tempting for our children to think that God is killjoy – that he’s unnecessarily limiting what people can do.
There will be some things that culture will accept as perfectly normal that the Bible does not – our children will grow up in that climate and will inevitably imbibe some of it. The danger is that they may then see God’s restrictions as him being a killjoy.
We want our children to see that God is the source of all joy. He created humanity not to stop us having fun, but so that we could experience life to the full. Sometimes what he says won’t seem to our children like life to the full. But we want them to have a deep sense of how God is for them – he wants them to have a deep and lasting joy. So even when they don’t understand why God has said something, we want them to have a deep conviction that God is good, he is for them, and he is in pursuit of their joy, not out to kill it.
So there we have it. 5 things we want our children to learn about God. Do any of these resonate with you? What might you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.