Discipleship — learning and growing as a follower of Jesus — is an everyday endeavor for those young and old. It’s a never-ending process of leading hearts and minds to follow Jesus and becoming more like him. Discipleship cannot be left to a Sunday school class, Bible study, or youth group alone — discipleship is an intentional strategy for life.
I want my kids to fall in love with Jesus because of his great love for them.
To be a disciple — a follower of Jesus — is to turn every day experiences into a living classroom laboratory for learning, exploration, critical thinking, theological instruction, and self reflection. In order to practice this way of life with our children, we have to be practicing this first with ourselves. This is why it’s important to engage with a local church on a weekly basis, sit under accurate teaching of Scripture, be surrendered to a life that chooses to follow Jesus by faith, and joyfully receives the gospel message (the “good news” that sinners are saved by faith alone and grace alone by Christ alone) each and every day. With these new rhythms of life, our hearts and minds are literally transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to see what Jesus sees, hear what he hears, think what he thinks, and says what he says. We become more like him.
This is the foundation to talking about Jesus with our kids. Apart from these personal rhythms of life, Jesus becomes nothing more than another storybook character and moralistic teacher. Regardless of your best intentions on communicating the life and importance of Jesus to your children, he’ll end up in the same category as Santa Clause if your life hasn’t been transformed by him and continues to be transformed in the grace of the gospel each and every day. The authenticity of our relationship with Jesus — the quality of how closely we relate to and follow Him — is directly proportionate to how accurately we communicate who he is.
I want a lot of things for my kids; a great education, opportunities for success, lots of friends, fun vacations, and all the My Little Pony and PAW Patrol toys ever made. But above all, what I want most for my kids is for them to love and follow Jesus with their lives. I would trade everything — every opportunity, every college scholarship, every chance for a successful career, every toy on the shelf, every vacation — so that they would know the joy, pleasure, and freedom it is to love and follow Jesus. Why such a radical statement for a family in success-driven, status-hungry suburban culture? Because following Jesus is all about eternity, not the temporal.
The authenticity of our relationship with Jesus — the quality of how closely we relate to and follow Him — is directly proportionate to how accurately we communicate who he is.
As such, we make it a habit to talk about Jesus in our home — a lot. We’re reading children’s books about Jesus. We’re singing songs about Jesus. We’re watching movies and children’s TV shows about Jesus. At their young age, I want my kids surrounded by the life and teachings of Jesus just as much as they are with My Little Pony, PAW Patrol, Disney princesses, and Transformers. I want my kids asking the hard questions about Jesus and dreaming of what he is like, cares about, and how he can be murdered as an innocent man, rise from the dead, mysteriously disappear into heaven, and still be alive with us today. There is no greater hero or redeeming Prince Charming than Jesus, a poor kid from an “at risk” community born in some stranger’s stable who changed the course of history and time: restoring God’s creation back to him. I want my kids to fall in love with Jesus because of his great love for them.
Following Jesus is all about eternity, not the temporal.
Just this last Sunday in church, my son Evan started asking me some profound questions while we were singing songs about Jesus. “Dad,” he asked, “is Jesus coming back tomorrow to take us to heaven?” This question does not come out of nowhere. The books we’re reading and the conversations we’re having frequently bring up the fact that Jesus is alive and is returning for his children.
Evan continued, “Dad, I don’t want to go to heaven. I want to stay here on earth.” I looked at him, smiled, pulled him in closer and whispered into his ear as the music played and the congregation sang around us, “Evan, I love you and Jesus loves you more. When Jesus comes back, he’s going to bring heaven with him. It’s going to be here on earth. It’s going to be perfect. It’s going to be amazing. It’s going to be the most wonderful place.”
Evan didn’t recite a special prayer or asked to be baptized in that moment, that’s for God’s appointed time. But for now, all I can do is continue talking about Jesus with my children in our every day experiences. Discipleship is an intentional strategy for life.
By the Cross. For the Kingdom.
– Pastor Matt