“Why do we have to go to church?”
One of my girls has asked this. More than once. Did she know daddy was a Religious Studies minor in college? Blasphemous at it sounds, I’ve asked the same question. I wonder if a Sunday morning is better spent doing good than mumbling through Psalms and Old Testament lessons.
Ultimately, I think there’s good to be found in going to church, mostly in fellowship and stewardship.
Our church was recently closed. The diocese called the congregation together on a Wednesday night, told us we were troubled and in debt and not able to be saved, not even as a mission, and locked the doors for Sunday service. We’ve mostly found new church homes in places that have accepted us. But, how “good” are the people who take away someone’s church?
It’s a disputed quote, but Abraham Lincoln’s take on religion sums it up for me pretty well:
Today’s guest-poster, Lisa, from Susanna’s Apron, caught my attention with a post called “4 on-the-go ways to teach our kids about God.” She’s sharing the knowledge today. I know I don’t have the answers, but I’m learning to get closer. Blogs like Lisa’s are such an asset.
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Few parenting concerns are more important than our children’s faith. Yet it’s impossible to instill faith in a child. Only God can convict the human heart of its need for salvation and a faith relationship with him.
A couple in the Old Testament learned this truth. The angel of the Lord visited Manoah and his wife, promising them a son. Their child, they were told, would save Israel from her violent oppressors, the Philistines.
Manoah apparently worried that he and his wife couldn’t raise a superhero. “So Manoah asked him, ‘Can you give us any special instructions about how we should raise the baby after he is born?’ (I love how he takes the initiative for his family.)
And the Angel replied, ‘Be sure that your wife follows the instructions I gave her. She must not eat grapes or raisins, or drink any wine or beer, or eat anything that isn’t kosher’” (Judges 13:12-14 TLB).
That was it. No insights on discipline, no rules about church attendance. Just a command for the baby’s mom to eat a special diet.
A kosher diet was an outward sign of inner consecration. Basically, the mandate for raising a faith-filled child was to live a God-focused life. God would see to the rest.
A parent’s example is foundational to fostering faith in kids. So, we just need to be perfect, and our kids will follow. The end.
Fortunately, we don’t demonstrate faith to our kids by pretending to be perfect. Faith is about dynamic, interactive dependence on God. Our kids see our faith as we accept grace and seek God’s help when we fail. They need to see us struggle, pray, and work through real life issues and problems with God.
They need to learn that God befriends and accepts regular, imperfect people, and calls them to grow in faith. A parent who continually reaches for God leaves a profound legacy. Children never forget the victories they witness through a surrendered, faith-filled parent.
Of course, it’s important to read the Bible to our kids, take them to church, and teach them to live by the Bible’s principles. They learn by practice. Yet our example of receiving grace and depending on God validates what we say.
Manoah and his wife raised their superhero; but he wasn’t perfect.
Mighty Samson’s tragic downfall, wrought by his vulnerability to Delilah’s trickery, shows there are no guarantees with kids. They make their own choices. In the end, though, Samson regained his faith, dying a heroic death that broke the Philistines’ power.
Rooted in his parents’ example of faith, he accomplished his life’s purpose. We offer our kids the same powerful gift when we surrender to God daily, by faith.