Toddlers and Theology
We young parents should definitely ask ourselves, “What does the application of Christianity look like in the raising of children?” Even when you think that you are finally beginning to comprehend that you must and are able to walk out the scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit; God presents phase two: CHILDREN! Now this is a whole new level of Christianity! Parenting children is definitely a part of Christianity. Deuteronomy 4:9 instructs us not to forget the things our eyes have seen in our walk with the Lord and to teach them to our children and to their children after them. Why? Our God is a generational God. He even referred to Himself in the scripture as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It’s as if God was not satisfied with just being Abraham’s God. He wanted a covenant relationship with people following after Abraham. I wondered if Abraham was ever nervously riding along on his camel with lil’ Isaac in the back seat thinking, “How on earth will I ever get this energetic toddler to comprehend the importance of the covenant with the God that I serve? How do I guide him toward following the One true God instead of worshipping idols like the other kids in the neighborhood?” Given Abraham’s natural phlegmatic tendencies toward living in fear, I can make a pretty good assumption he thought exactly along these lines at one time or another.
Well what does the Bible say about applying our faith to our lives in the way that we raise children? No matter what denomination or depth of your religion growing up, we have all heard the scripture Proverbs 22:6 that says, Train up a child in the way he should go… Alright, now that we know we should train a child in the ways of God, now what? This is where I think most of us parents get stuck. If we stay stuck here then we will soon get discouraged and quit trying to “train” because we believe the Lord did not give us any insight on how to do what he instructed.
This is a good time to go over some things that the Lord instructed His people, the Jews, to do with their children a long time ago. This passage of scripture in the Torah (God’s teaching and instruction in the first five books of the Bible) is commonly referred to by the Jewish people as the “Shema”. They actually teach this and many other truths to their children as soon as they are able to talk. So their kids probably were not nearly as confused about Christian child raising by the time they had kids as I have been:
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 King James Version (KJV)
4 Hear, O
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
This “shema” contains a lot of great truths to apply to our task of raising children, but today let’s focus on just one action step found there. Verse 7 said to teach them diligently unto thy children… Teach them diligently is broken down even better by the Strong’s Concordance that says the original Hebrew meaning is to pierce, prick, sharpen, and inculcate. Then webster defines Inculcate as to teach and impress by frequent repetitions and admonitions. Lets take it even further. Webster defines Impress as to have an emotional or cognitive impact upon; produce or try to produce a vivid impression on. Wow! Our walk with the Lord is definitely supposed to have an impact on children, I know some of you may be thinking, “But I don’t think that it’s right to stuff religion down my kids throat”. I completely understand that concern, but we followers of Christ who are raising children have specific instructions from the God who created them to impress the commandments of God upon their hearts.
So after knowing this truth, here is the dilemma I found myself in as I looked at my positive pregnancy test in April 2009. I am not exactly a "kid" person...
(to be continued...tonight!)