In a recent sermon on Mark 10:13-16 we talked about bringing children to Jesus. Parents brought their children to be touched and blessed by Jesus. But how do we bring our children to Jesus? How do we guide their hearts to the Christ?
We must teach our children to relate to God through worship.
1. You are raising a worshipper.
Everyone worships. As humans we were created to be worshippers- to find that thing that is bigger than us, that transcends us, and spend our life pursuing it. As humans we are the pinnacle of all of God’s creation. We are the only thing in all of God’s creation that is made in his image. Therefore there is only one thing bigger than us- God. So not only were we made to worship. We were made to worship God.
Your children were made to worship God. They were not made to worship you, nor were you made to worship them. To put any human (including self) above God is idolatry. To put any other created thing above humanity or above God is idolatry. The word image means idol. As humans we are the idols that reflect God. Image bearers are not God, they reflect God. Your children reflect God, they are not God.
Only God can satisfy the hunger deep inside of us for something more. For awe. For wonder. For beauty. Only God can satisfy our most basic needs. For love. For acceptance. For forgiveness. For comfort and security. For peace and joy.
Your child is finding all of these things somewhere. And so are you.
2. What does your child worship?
Do you know what your child worships? Can you see the idols of their heart? Can you see past the surface to the deeper idols? For example you might think beauty or makeup is an idol for your young daughter. But what is the deeper desire? Is it acceptance? Is it a desire for friends or for self- worth. Is she trying to cover up guilt or shame? You might think video games are an idol for your son. But what is he seeking on a deeper level? Is it worth? Is it purpose? Is it adventure? Is he avoiding problems in this fantasy world?
Are you contributing to your child’s idols? Are you putting so much pressure on them for good grades, or performance in music, drama, athletics, that they are learning to make this creation of God into a god? Something that is beyond them to be stressfully pursued rather than a gift from God that is meant to bring joy. Are you giving your child everything they want? Are you making materialism their god? Are you pressuring your young adult child to get a better job that pays more, to seek a career that won’t make them happy, but will bring material success? Are you inadvertently making money and success their god? Are you their god? Have you made it so that your child cannot function apart from you? Are you co-dependent? Are you doing their homework for them? Speaking for them in every situation? Fighting all of their battles? Are you showing them how to do life on their own?
3. Are you teaching your children to worship God?
Worshipping God is the “solution” to all of the problems we have diagnosed thus far. Your children were made to worship God, and worshipping anything else will leave them in despair. Teaching our children to worship God is the most important and most basic thing we can do for them and with them. We all want our children to be happy. But happiness comes from finding your place in the world. Your child’s place is as a worshipper of the one true God. We are the moon, He is the sun. We are extras, He is the star of the show. Our children won’t be happy until they learn that they exist to glorify God.
Identifying and attacking idols alone will never change your child’s heart. The false idols of the heart must be replaced with God himself. God alone is worthy of worship. God alone is the giver of all the good gifts that we have identified as idols. God alone is pure beauty. Pure love. Pure joy. Pure holiness and goodness and grace. Our children must “taste and see that the Lord is good.” We must guide them into gratitude and faith.
It is important to show our children the true God of the Bible. Not just some God that we have made up. We must know the God of the Bible ourselves. Learn Him. Seek Him. Desire Him in all of his attributes- His holiness and love. God is only good if he is both holy and loving. He must be both Savior and Judge of all the earth. It is easy to show our children a distorted picture of God by emphasizing only certain attributes of God.
4. We worship God by beholding Christ
We are calling this series of blogs “Bringing our children to Christ.” So what does worshipping God have to do with bringing our children to Christ? Everything! We worship by beholding. As we behold something that is glorious and beautiful it changes us. As we contemplate something that is good and pure it changes us. As we longingly desire something that is wonderful and inspiring it changes us. This is worship. Scripture tells us that we are changed as we behold Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).
Christ is the embodiment of all of God’s goodness, glory, love, essence, holiness, and grace. We cannot fully know and worship God without knowing Christ and him crucified. The best way for you to lead your child in worship of God is to show them Christ and his death and resurrection.
This does not mean that you show your children pictures of Jesus as a bloody mess on the cross. I am not talking about stressing the physical beating that Jesus took. In fact this part of the crucifixion is rarely talked about in the epistles and even the gospels down play the physical torture that Christ experienced.
When we teach our children to worship God through Christ, we are talking about teaching them to behold the One that died FOR THEM. But we are also talking about teaching our children about the Christ that died WITH THEM. The Christ that seeks to live his life through your child. For Christ to live through your child they must understand who he is, and what he is like. They must worship him in spirit and truth. Earlier we said “Show your children the true God of the Bible.” This cannot be done without showing them Christ.
5. It’s about life
All of this may sound stressful and even legalistic. “Do I have to have a family worship time each day?” “Or family devotions?” “How can I possibly do all of this with my children and still get the math homework done?”
Family worship is a great thing. And it is something that can really help you as a family to slow down and take prioritized moments to seek God, read together, pray together, sing together and worship the true God through Christ. I highly recommend that you make it a priority and also a planned time each day or week that will bring some structure into your family.
But it is also important to teach our children that worshipping is life. It is not something we only do on Sunday mornings or during “Family worship time.” It is something that we do all the time, in all that we do (“eating or drinking”), in work and play. Math homework is a chance to worship. So is soccer practice. So is piano recital. So is getting dressed, and eating dinner, and going to school. Everything is worship. Worship of something or someone. Worship is an attitude that should characterize all we do at all times.
The question is will it be worship of God? Will it be done in gratitude, faith, and awe towards God? Will it honor the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ?
Guide your child’s heart towards this attitude in all he or she does and you will raise a truly happy child, one who knows their place in this universe- as a worshipper of God.