I am firmly convinced that the gospel, the good news of God our Father’s redemptive work through the person and work of Jesus Christ, is a message that both informs our eternal destiny and conforms us into His son’s likeness. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that the knowledge of Christ(the gospel) is for those being saved as well as those not-yet saved. The gospel, to paraphrase Tim Keller, is not just the ABCs of life, but the A to Zs of life.
With that conviction in hand, I have been pondering how that can apply to my everyday life with family, and more specifically to my kids. How do I raise my kids to value the gospel, to accept that message, and begin to show fruit in their life from believing that good news?
In the next three posts, I will share three principles I have learned and live by as I continue the learning process of shepherding my kids in the everyday with the gospel. This is not some exhaustive theological exposition, but merely some observations and principles I am trying to live by as I have kids maturing towards really being able to understand and process the gospel message and the implications of it in their lives.
1) Evangelism for Everyday Life
I have been learning in my own life how I share the good news of Christ’s atoning death on the cross and resurrection is not something rigid and structured, but sharing the gospel is a daily life-on-life interaction with friends, family, and co-workers who don’t know Jesus Christ. Not only do others need to hear the good news everyday, but so do I, and evangelism looks a lot like letting my thoughts echo the gospel, my words speak the gospel, and my deeds reflect the gospel. Evangelism is a beautiful paradox of neat and messy; intentional and spontaneous; word and deed; one-on-one and in a group; deep and wide.
This is true in my day-to-day interactions with my four kids. Sharing the gospel with them is not some wrote presentation I give or having them say a prayer (although we do have scheduled time for this and prayer, but more on that in the next post). John Piper described the gospel (more specifically the cross of Christ) as a multi-faceted diamond that can be looked at from countless angles. I want my kids to experience that multi-faceted nature of the gospel message in their everyday life as they live their life. I look to passages like Deuteronomy 6:7 that says, “You shall teach [God’s commandments] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Whether we are sitting down to eat, lying down for bed, going on a walk outside, playing video games, reading a book, watching a movie, or playing in the yard, we are to be teaching our kids about Jesus Christ and the good news of His life, death, and resurrection
For example, when someone does something nice for someone else, I will intentionally try to point them to Jesus as their example as a servant. I will tell them (not in these exact words) that Jesus was sent as a servant who came to serve us and ultimately showed us the greatest service by laying down his life on the cross to take our sin and give us life, peace, and restoration. We are showing Jesus’ humble servanthood and joyfully obeying him when we serve other people in our family and others outside our family.
On some days that means my three-year-old might hit her brother or sister, and I share how because of our sin we were God’s enemies and deserve death, but the Father sent His son Jesus to die for us and now we are no longer his enemies but are a part of His family and we are called to show that same love the Father showed us to other people. The good news allows me to help her see that she doesn’t have to be mean and hit her brother and sister, but she can show love to them and if she is upset, she can lovingly talk to them or come talk to me to figure out the situation.
Or if my son is throwing a fit over not being able to play the computer before bed, I can go into his room where he is flopping around and throwing a tantrum and talk with him (most of the time it is after calming him down and asking him to respectfully listen instead of flop around) about how God is good, so we don’t have to look to something else to make us the most happy. We want to be happy, and God the Father knows that, and that is why he sent his Son Jesus so that we could have the only thing that will always make us happy, God himself (God is the gospel, after all). I urge my son to worship God (to make God the most important thing) and let him know that throwing a fit over video games is his heart worshiping a false God that won’t bring him lasting happiness. When we worship God, we find true happiness and we can enjoy the times we get to play video games and the times we don’t.
The whole point of these interactions is that I want the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to meet my children where they are at every single day, whether that is related to discipline, false worship, thankfulness, sadness, joy, obedience, friendship, or whatever. If I expect that of myself as a disciple of Jesus Christ, why would I not expect that out of my kids? Discipleship doesn’t start with our kids when they pray a prayer or choose to be baptized, but discipleship starts at the point they begin to walk (or crawl) alongside of us as parents and learn from us how to daily follow Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 6:7). Isn’t that what discipleship is all about?
Stay tuned and I will dive into the next point addressing how our family balances the day-to-day sharing of the gospel with intentional time engaging God’s Word in Scripture reading and prayer. Thanks for reading today!