Friday, 10 August 2018 09:53

In and Out of the World

Written by  Pastor Karen Tam
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Karen Tam

Though we long for our beautiful Canadian summer, do you agree with me that summer vacation is sometimes also very tiring?  For some parents, we may long for the end of summer so we can send our children back to school, back to the routine.

Yes!  Yet under the current Ontario sex education curriculum and the latest federal legislation on marijuana use, many Christian parents may feel anxious about sending our children back to the public school system where they teach our children values different from our Christian beliefs -- such as same sex marriage, leisure use of marijuana, freedom of religion or irreligion.  So some Christian parents choose to place their children in a Christian school, a private school or home schooling.  Though these are possible options of guarding our children’s from exposing to these non-biblical teachings and influence, this is not the ultimate solution.  

For other than day school, many of our children nowadays also attend different after-school programs or extra-curricular activities, where they may also pick up some non-biblical worldviews from their teachers, their tutors, their instructors, their coaches and their peers.   So there is no way we can totally refrain our children from learning the confusing values and cultures of this world.   According to the Hemorrhaging Faith Report, published by a research group of Canadian Christian leaders and pastors in 2011, it stated that parents are the most influential person in the lives of their children.  In other words, despite of the world influences, parents play the vital role in raising and discipling our own children.

In John 17:18, Jesus said, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”  Our Lord Jesus was sent by Father God to come to this fallen world to fulfill His redemptive mission.  He in turn sent His disciples to go into this world to share the Good News.  We can see then God’s will is not to separate His children from the world. Rather He wants us to be in yet out of the world; to set apart to be salt and light of the world.   So, let’s learn from our Lord Jesus how He prepared His disciples for us to prepare our children to be in the world yet out of the world.

1) Jesus Teaches His Disciples with Daily Examples.  In the four Gospels, we clearly see that Jesus often took hold of teachable moments in His daily walk with His disciples to teach them about faith.  Like in His healing of the sick, He could have simply healed the sick, but He pointed out to His disciples that it was the faith of the sick in Him that they were healed, such as in healing the servant of the centurion (Matt 8:5-15; Luke 7:1-10); the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years (Matt 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-35; Luke 43-48); and the daughter of the Canaanite woman (Matt 15:21-28).   Jesus pointed out to His disciples what real love for God is in the offering of a widow (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4)).  Passing by the temple, Jesus taught His disciples signs of the End Times (Matt 24).

So parents, in addition to bringing our children to church to learn about God, we also need to spend time to teach our children about God at home and in their daily lives.  Make it a priority to have family devotion on a regular basis. It will be way much easier if we start when our children are small, and make it a family habit and routine.  In addition, parents need to intentionally grab hold of spiritual teachable moments in our daily lives, and help our children to connect their bible knowledge to their faith in Christ.  For example, initiate at an appropriate time a faith talk with them regarding the different definition of marriage of this world and that according to the Bible, how self-control is related to the Fruit of the Spirit, how can we as children of God live out the Great Commandment, etc.  Be bold, open and available for faith talk with our children. Don’t be embarrassed if you cannot have answers to their questions right away.  Be humble to admit that you do not know all or you are not sure, and suggest that you will look for the answers together with them.   When our children raise questions regarding God or the Bible, take it as a positive spiritual sign that our children have interest in Christianity. Otherwise, they do not even bother to ask.  If we do not talk with our children the right way of life, many people will be happy to do it for us, but it may not be the way that God pleases!

2)  Jesus Lives Out His Teaching.  Throughout Jesus’ ministry on earth, He spent a lot of time with His disciples.  His disciples did not only learn from His teachings, they also saw how Jesus did ministry with power, authority, love and compassion.  The disciples also saw how Jesus retreated for prayer in solitude. Jesus demonstrated His teaching of “love your enemies” by transforming the life of the Samaritan woman with love and concern. He lived out His teaching of humility and servant leadership by washing His disciples’ feet. They also witnessed how Jesus suffered yet stayed obedient till death to fulfill God’s redemptive plan.  So parents, we also need to live out our real faith in action as life examples for our children. We cannot expect our children to choose a life different from this world if we live a worldly life.  We cannot expect our children to turn to God for their struggles if they see us solving all our life problems by our own efforts.  We cannot expect our children love going to church if we do not have a healthy church life of worship and fellowship ourselves.  We cannot expect our children to have a close relationship with God if we ourselves do not have a regular devotion time before God.  We cannot expect our children to be a loving and forgiving person if we do not demonstrate love and forgiveness in our lives before them. Children learn more from watching than hearing.  We need to live out what a God-honoring life is in order for them to respect God and put God first in their lives.

3) Jesus Prays For His Disciples.    Jesus did not only teach His disciples about prayer (Matt 6:5-15), in John 17:6-19, before He went on the cross, Jesus prayed to Father God specifically for His disciples. Jesus did not pray to God to take His disciples out of the world.  He asked God to protect His disciples from the evil one, to help them to stay in unity, to have the joy in Christ, and to be sanctified by the Truth.

So parents, we also need to pray for our children.  We pray not to ask God to take them out of the world.  Our prayer should not stop at their earthly needs like health, safety, school performance, personal achievement, success in career, happy family, but their spiritual understanding, spiritual growth, and spiritual “wins” when they face spiritual struggles and temptations.  Pray for spiritual leaders and a loving church family to nurture their faith when they are young, solid and tight spiritual circles around them to walk lives with them in faith when they are away from home in universities or at work, God-fearing spouses as they seek independence from home, and to be spiritual parents for their own children.

Though spiritual parenting is not an easy task, but it is an honor and privilege that God has given to each biological parent and spiritual parent in the church family.  In John 16:33, Jesus encouraged His disciples and said, “In this world you will have troubles.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  So let’s fear not.  Our Savior Lord Jesus has overcome this world.  Regardless of how non-biblical the  public school curriculum has changed, and how confusing today’s world values and cultures have become, we hold on to the faith of our Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep.  He is also the Good Shepherd who will leave His ninety-nine sheep and go to look for the one who wanders off.  For us as parents and church family members, let’s be faithful in teaching, modeling and praying for our next generation of faith – to be in the world yet lead a holy life different from the world to shine for Jesus!

(the author is YLD pastor of RHCCC)

More in this category: God Leads the Way »

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