This is not a post about how to help your children deal with their emotions as they face their fear of mass shootings, ISIS, or any of the other evils that are no longer hidden from them, despite your best efforts. That is a job for you and your spouse and maybe your pastor. God’s Word is permeated with “do not fear” passages and it should be no trouble for you to find one to begin with as you walk with your children through the emotional challenge that today’s world must be to them.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”” (Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV)
Neither is this an effort to move parents to a place of either protecting their children from or exposing their children to the clear and present danger that is quickly becoming a characteristic of being Christian and American. That is up to you as well. You know your child better than anyone other than God himself.
“And consider today (since I am not speaking to your children who have not known or seen it), consider the discipline of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm,” (Deuteronomy 11:2, ESV)
I worry about my children these days. Heck, I worry for myself. Times are changing. This world is quickly becoming less than hospitable to us. Almost daily a new tragedy becomes the news. Another shooting, another bombing, another terrorist attack, and the promise of more from the evil, cowardly jihadists, are scary soundbites of our culture. Team that with a Federal government that seems hellbent (at least the Executive branch) on quieting Christianity and a culture that is increasingly opposed to it and us and it seems like the perfect storm is building against us.
People hate us. Jesus said they would…
Every day the news contains reasons to not be Christian, much less a Christian that defends his or her beliefs. Despite our wishes for our offspring, it’s looking like the times are moving us to deal with apologetics, our kids, and the world they live in.
I spent a lot of time in 1 Peter last year and one of the things that quickly became evident was that Peter was writing to a persecuted Church. There is little doubt that there were children who were part of that early Church. Let me ask you, do you think that they were sheltered or excluded from the persecution that spurred the writing of the first book of Peter?
Nope. They weren’t.
Children were all too familiar with the torture, humiliation, and deaths of their Christian parents. There is even some evidence that children were tortured and killed as well. Pliny the younger wrote in his letter to Emperor Trajan about 111 AD…
“I have never participated in trials of Christians. I therefore do not know what offenses it is the practice to punish or investigate, and to what extent. And I have been not a little hesitant as to whether there should be any distinction on account of age or no difference between the very young and the more mature; whether pardon is to be granted for repentance, or, if a man has once been a Christian, it does him no good to have ceased to be one; whether the name itself, even without offenses, or only the offenses associated with the name are to be punished.”
The fact of the matter is that if persecution comes to Christians, our children are not going to be immune to its emotional consequences and are not out of reach of its financial, legal, or even physical cost.
So, how are you preparing your children to be courageous? What are you doing to instill in them the capacity to be obedient to the Spirit of God if he calls them to stand in the midst of imminent threat?
To be honest, I don’t believe that the power to stand against torture or martyrdom comes from some inner strength. I believe that kind of fortitude comes from God in his Spirit. But, the reality is that we’re not quite there yet. For the most part persecution in America is intellectual and sometimes financial. Physical persecution remains illegal, although government sanctioned “legal” persecution seems a sure thing in the future. Regardless, I am of the persuasion that God gives strength to people that they cannot self-generate in those situations.
The kind of courage that it takes to stand against persecution is the result of two things, knowledge of the truth and certainty of being right!
A person who is uncertain of the rightness of his or her plight or knows little of its substance, will cower in the face of danger. On the other hand, a person armed with knowledge of the truth and invigorated by the certainty that he is doing the right thing will not easily be moved from where they stand. Courage is grounded in the roots of truth and springs from the trunk of virtue and justice.
Now that sounds a little grandiose for little kids though, doesn’t it? Maybe it seems a little like illusions of grandeur, peewee style?
I promise that it won’t always seem that way. One day your little one will face a professor, employer, or friend that requires them to stand up for Christ. Hopefully, that will be the earliest they will be challenged to defend the hope they have. It may not be. They ought to be prepared, nonetheless.
My encouragement, as you begin to consider apologetics, kids, and the world they live in, is that you ground your children in the truth. Root them in the Scriptures and bring them up in the knowledge of God.
There is one sure and infallible guide to truth, and therefore one, and only one, corrective for error, and that is the Word of God.
G. Campbell Morgan²
But that would be a job done only halfway.
Begin, at a young age to teach them the evidences for God. Teach them the historical reliability of the New Testament. Give them the historical reasons to believe that Jesus really did come out of that tomb. Then they will not only have knowledge of the truth but they will know that they are right.
Do these things and courage will grow, in you and your children. Then you’ll be certain that you will “be ready” to give an apologetic (defense) for the hope you have and your children will too.
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV)
² Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.