Thursday, June 12, 2008

Children and Treasuring Christ

How do you teach a child to treasure Jesus?  Left unattended to and otherwise undirected, children will catch the treasuring tendencies of those around them (family, friends etc.).

Is it possible to help direct the affections of your child's heart?

It is absolutely possible to direct the treasuring language that comes only from lips while heart affections long after whatever brings most pleasure. It's very easy to teach a child to mimic language. But as we know language alone is not evidence of a love for God.

So it seems our children may be most affected in the direction of their treasuring by seeing the hearts of their family and friends caught ablaze with true affections (and not merely verbal) for God. Children should be brought into experiences of delighting in God with their parents especially and hopefully other family and friends also.

I've shared this illustration at the jail and found it to be effective in relaying a powerful truth.

My daughter's loves her little pets (plastic toys). She takes them everywhere with her, to church, to the store, to grandma's house. Her daddy loves her and enjoys providing financially for her collection of these toys. Her daddy also gladly provides for her housing, food, and clothing. As daddies do, her daddy also protects her and teaches her and smothers her with affection. Wouldn't it be foolish for her to treasure more her little pets than her daddy?

In the same way wouldn't it be foolish for us to treasure more, enjoy more, and delight in more in the little pets (enjoyable things) of this world than our Heavenly Father? Wouldn't it be foolish of us to treasure more our homes, vehicles, toys, health, insurance benefits, retirement plans, family and friends more than God?

Of course the answer is yes this would be very foolish. Yet we desperately need to consider this more than just in passing. It is after all very easy to say with our mouths that we treasure God while the proof of our lives is showing that we are in fact treasuring everything else.

May our children find us truly treasuring Him who is most valuable. May they be caught up into our being caught up into "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6)


John said...

Ben, what a wonderful reminder! And that's a great analogy.

We do cherish our plastic pets.

Are you going to the Desiring God conference?

cgl said...

I have been pondering this matter immensly as of late and I am trying to decide how to train a depraved child. Can I or should I expect my child to recognize spiritual things and to desire God as her parents do? Should I be "the law" to my children to demonstrate their sinful nature, just as God gave us the law to demonstrate our wickedness? Just some thoughts for discussion

Amanda said...

Great post.

cgl - Me, too. I've read Shepherding a Child's Heart and now I'm reading Grace-based Parening by Tim Kimmel (I've only just started.). A friend highly recommends Reb Bradley and J. Richard Fugate, neither of which I've read. (They seem a little extreme to me and there are some scathing reviews on Amazon, but I've never read them, so I have no opinion really.)

Is a balance better? A balance between training and grace?

Unbreakable Joy said...

John, I am planning to go to the DG conference.

CGL,good questions. I really think parents display God's image to their children in many ways: (a few examples) 1) as authority figures to discipline them when needed 2) as fellow children of God we must also share with these new ones the value and glory of God. This is not to say that we should "expect" them to be where children cannot be - but we should demonstrate this for them. I think this is a very powerful way for them to see and experience that God is valuable, in other words that God is God.

Our society is saturated with idolatry. We must teach by our words and by our example about this new life called Christianity - and the most valuable treasure called God.

cgl said...

Good comments. I agree whole heartedly that the display of God as valuble is probably the most influential and effective method of training children concerning God. Displaying God as valuable manifests itself in many ways. I don't think that my children are God's children in the Biblical sense of the word, cuts a little to close to reformed covenant theology. Which I suppose is relevant to this discussion as they would argue that children are protected through parental salvation in the convenant.

Amanda said...

A "mommy" blog I read has a post on parenting today that I found interesting. (Keep in mind, it's geared toward women. :) )

Brian G. Hedges said...

Ben, this was an excellent post. Good conversation in small group last week, too. Thanks for your reflection on this issue.