“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Last week at Veritas Academy
What is True?
As Christian parents and educators, we desire our students to gain answers to some really important questions. We do a pretty good job of answering for them “What is true?” Most Christian kids can recite a predictable morality code. They can articulate what is right and what is wrong, speaking the rhetoric of good moralists.
Earlier this week for no reason, my granddaughter Kate bit her brother. When asked what she was thinking, she responded with “It was naughty.” She knew it was wrong, yet knowing did not stop her from biting. Pressing the issue further, I realized that she failed to see the connection between her action and her own heart. As a three year old, Kate has lots of learning ahead of her – and her parents are wisely pressing the issue deeper even at her young age. I see a surprising number of Christian students however who remain in a similar mindset as they age; while they comprehend “what is true” they fail to connect it personally or recognize that anything is amiss in their own hearts. They may no longer put teeth marks into the backs of their siblings but their more refined morality code does not necessarily prevent them from making other harmful decisions.
Why am I here?
We also put a lot of effort into helping kids answer the question “Why am I here?” We paint grandiose visions of bright and noble futures. We speak words of hope and encouragement over them. We want them to be successful; to be purpose driven. Yet along the way, many lose their passion and zeal and they burn out growing complacent instead. Most of the students I work with can speak the language of big hopes and dreams- they want to become doctors or lawyers- college athletes or missionaries. Yet I see in the eyes of some a deep seated fear: “What if I don’t live up to these expectations?” – “What if I fail?” Fear overpowers their hope and serves to darken their own vision for the future.
Pastor Rush pointed out that we actually have a far more important question to answer well for our kids- and if we come to view this question as our highest aim, the answers to these other two questions will be answered as well. This most important question is:
“Who is God?”
If our children comprehend who God is- what His nature is like – and they then internalize the truth that they are created in HIS image, they grow a lasting reason for the hope within- and a vision to rise up and become who God created them to be in the first place! What amazing transformations could take place if this question were answered well and consistently throughout their upbringing.
I ponder why Christian kids, like their secular peers, often get ensnared with disorders such as disordered eating and self mutilation. What sets them up on this path to begin with? I understand that these types of behaviors are often the outcome of many factors. Yet perhaps the best prevention lies in answering this most important question. Would they- could they- then rise above and be supernaturally immune to these types of disorders if they grew to comprehend the God who created them and the amazing mystery that each one was created after His image?
“Do we not know that our bodies are members of Christ?”
(1 Corinthians 6:15)
When we focus primarily on the question “What is true?” our kids grow faith in what is right and wrong and along with it often comes a sense of shame. (“I can grow close to God if I act this way and do these things.” ) Knowing right from wrong has little power to transform our hearts. When we focus primarily on the question “Why am I here?” we risk burn out. With both questions, we address what they are to do, yet we exasperate them because they lack the inner strength and true knowledge by which to actually succeed.
If we intentionally however address the question “Who is God?” the answers to the other two questions will likely be answered as well.
Here’s the bottom line:
The same is true for parents! Much of what your kids learn to consider true about God they will learn at home. Moms and dads are uniquely wired to reflect the image of God in their homes. You have the power and the privilege and the responsibility to uphold His image to your children.
We”ll make this practical next week…..
In 1961 A.W.Tozer wrote a powerful book called The Knowledge of The Holy. In it he describes the attributes of god and their meaning in the Christian Life- a must read today.
“The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has even been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the church is always God himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”
Pastor Ryan Rush is the author of Walls: Why Everybody’s Stuck (and No One Has to Be.)