I Don't Want To Go
"I don't go to church because my parents beat me over the head with the Bible." "I don't go to church because my parents forced me to go when I was a kid." I don't go to church because the Bible is too strict, too unbelievable, too irrelevant."
Instructing your children in the way of the Lord can be a daunting task, and just because the Apostle Paul says we are to do it doesn't make it less so. The Old Testament is rife with father's who failed (if children's outcome is the measurement). Adam had Cain. Abraham had Ishmael. David had Absolon. If they couldn't do it why should there be any hope for us?
It is so confusing because some of the greatest saints had the worst children, and some of the worst parents had the best. It would seem that it is a crap shoot.
The reality is that everyone is responsible for their own choices, whether their parents were a help or hindrance. My brother said he didn't go to church because our mom made as as children, yet I go, so the deciding factor isn't mom. However, though children will make their own decisions parents have a formative role in the process, and if they don't take it someone else will.
Here is the definitive answer to how: Law, Principle, Grace.
Law. The scripture Is replete with commands that followers of Jesus are to obey. They are the moral framework that help us to identify the Holy nature of God and His requirements to stand in his presence. We need to teach these to our children and help them understand that perfect obedience is required (stay with me).
Principle. Principles are harder because they are not black and white. The Apostle Paul defines it as the law of love. We change our behavior to help build up the weak. We serve others over ourselves. We curtail our freedom because of the weakness of others. Principles make us think because they can apply differently depending on the circumstances. By teaching our children principles we teach them critical thinking as well as selflessness.
Grace. Grace and mercy are the opposite sides the same coin. Grace is getting what we don't deserve and mercy not getting what we deserve. When we teach our children that a holy God expects perfection but offers Grace and mercy through Christ, we temper the image of a mean and cruel God. But more then that, when we display Grace and mercy to children who fail we show them Christ in us. But more then that, when we ask for Grace and mercy when we have made mistakes we show them that Christ lives in them.
Proverbs says that we are train up a child in the way that he/she should go and he/she will not depart from the faith. That is generally true. Generally if we understand our children's bent and guide them in the direction that God has chosen for them they will stay the course.
Each of my children is different, different gifts, talents, and abilities. There were certain things that was required of them all, the moral code, church attendance, and family time. Their were other expectations that changed, scholastics, athletics, music, extra church activities and events. I look at them now and they are each following the Lord, but their expression of it is different. They are making their own way in the Lord.
I followed through with my responsibility (for good or ill), but now it is their decision. I'm just saying...
Ephesians 6:4 "but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."