What do you talk to your children about?
I’d imagine for most of us the conversations that we have with our children range from the sublime to the ridiculous!
Perhaps your conversation with children involves you asking them what they did at school, and them replying “nothing”? Isn’t it strange that they never do anything – you’d think someone would have noticed by now!
It could be that you talk to them about what they’re doing at that particular time – narrating their life as it happens (just in case they happen to miss something!)
Or maybe it’s simply telling them what they need to do (or not do!) “Reuben, please pick up that entire car collection that you’ve just dumped on the floor and spread across the house.” “Reuben, please don’t stand up while I change this impossibly pooey nappy.” “Reu, please don’t put everything smaller than your fist into your mouth. At once.”
Depending on the age of your children, the things that you talk to them about will no doubt vary.
Speaking About The Gospel
But how easy do you find it to speak to your children about Christian things? How easy, in general day-to-day life, do you find it to speak the truths of the gospel into your child’s life?
We’re not talking about the set aside times that you may have with your children to disciple them – perhaps a family devotion, or a time of Bible-reading and prayer before bed. Those are wonderfully precious and important times for the spiritual nurturing of our children. At some point we’ll definitely have some musings on different children’s Bibles etc.
Rather, we’re talking about speaking about God – chatting about the gospel and a Christian understanding of the world in the normal activities of life – as we go about living in the day-to-day.
Speaking to our children about the gospel in this way isn’t something that necessarily comes naturally to many of us, but most would like to do it more often and more naturally. We certainly would.
In light of this we thought we would, from time-to-time, publish a new entry to a series of blog posts called “Gospel in the Everyday”, to help all of us think about how we might do this.
The Biblical Basis For Gospel In The Everyday
The Bible teaches that God has fashioned and ordered the world in such a way that the things we encounter in it speak to us of him and his attributes. Here’s what King David says in Psalm 19:
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
Do you see what he’s saying there? He’s saying that God has designed the world to reveal something about himself. It’s what’s known in theology as “general revelation” (as opposed to “special revelation” – God’s supernatural, deeper and fuller revelation of himself in the Bible and ultimately in Jesus). God is speaking – not audibly, but speaking nonetheless, through his world. We just need to be listening in order to hear it.
Here’s how Paul says it in Romans 1:
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities
– his eternal power and divine nature –
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made”
What does this mean for our parenting? It means that as we go about life, we are bombarded with opportunities to speak to our children about God. But often we’re so used to ignoring these signs ourselves that we find it difficult to interpret them and speak of them. But they are there.
- They are there as we encounter the beauty of a creation that speaks of the splendour of the God who created it.
- They are there as we feast our eyes on the rich palette of colour of an autumn day which speaks of a God who isn’t simply pragmatic, but loves to create beautiful things for our enjoyment.
- They are there in the culture we engage with (even children’s TV and films!), in which image-bearing humans seek to represent truth as they offer interpretations of general revelation (without even realizing it).
- They are there in the chaging seasons; in a sunset; in a beautiful gospel-mirroring act of kindness; in a simple glass of water.
The Example Of Jesus
Jesus took this even further. Very often Jesus simply observed the world around him and drew parallels to spiritual truth. It’s fascinating to look at the way that Jesus engaged with the physical things of the world and used them to talk about matters of spiritual significance. But as Jesus engaged with the creation, he often drew out much more than we’d normally expect from simple “general revelation”. General revelation can never reveal to us the gospel or knowledge for salvation. But Jesus, as the source of special revelation, was able to take these things much further, and draw out the depths of the gospel as he went about his day to day life in creation. He did it all the time. Here are just a few examples:
- Using water, with the woman at the well (Jn 4:1-42);
- Using agricultural observations with the parable of the sower (Mk 4:1-20);
- Using the unworried, but nevertheless fed and clothed, ravens and lilies (Lk 12:22-34);
- Using salt and light, in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:13-16).
- Using bread and wine, at the Last Supper (Lk 22:7-23)
We are fortunate as Christians that we can use “special revelation” (the Bible and Jesus) to guide and add depth to our interpretation of “general revelation”. As fallen humans, general revelation is never able to give us saving knowledge (Romans 1 and elsewhere makes that clear). But we who have saving knowledge can engage with the things of general revelation and draw out echoes and glimpses of the gospel (just like Paul does in Acts 17, and elsewhere). What a joy to be able to do that day-to-day with our children as we go about life with them.
That’s exactly what this series of posts aims to help us do. The aim is to get us – Scott and Cathy – thinking (and hopefully help you to think, too) about how, in the everyday interactions with the world that we share with our children, we can point them to truths about who God is, and share with them the truths of the gospel. We’ve gone fairly deep into the theology behind this series in this introductory post to show why we’re doing this, but the future posts in this series will be very practical, looking at specific opportunities we might have with our children.
We hope you find them helpful!
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