Creating Authentic Faith Environments for Your Kids
by Daniel Darling
He was languishing in a Roman cell, awaiting his sure execution. It was cold and damp. He had nothing but the tattered clothes on his back. Most of his friends had deserted him. He longed for his parchments and his coat to keep him warm.
But one thing brought joy to the heart of the persecuted Apostle: the pure faith of his young protégé Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). Interestingly, Paul uses a double negative to describe this faith. The original text might read something like, “not insincere faith.” To his Greek readers, the descriptor recalls stage act.
Paul was reveling in Timothy’s faith because it was “not a stage act.” In other words, Timothy’s faith was real. Genuine. Pure. In his day, the former Pharisee had seen a lot of insincere faith. A lot of religious stage acting. In Timothy, he saw something radically different.
What’s even more impressive is that this faith was passed from grandmother to mother to son. Which gets me thinking. What is the kind of faith that is contagious from generation to generation?
Pure faith. Unadulterated faith. Real faith. Kids catch what is genuine. But they tend to discard what is fake. Here’s the rub for parents and influencers. What is most real to us must be our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
We may say that we believe Jesus, but is that what our kids will see? Or will they see that our faith is in our denomination, or our tradition, or our music preferences, or our political parties. What excites us? What gets us out of bed in the morning? What gets us angry?
D.A. Carson, renowned theologian, says this:
“I have been teaching more decades now that I can count and if I have learned anything from all of this teaching, it’s this: my students…learn what I’m excited about. So within the church of the living God, we must become excited about the gospel. That’s how we pass on our heritage. [Sometimes] the gospel is not what really captures us. Rather, [it] is a particular form of worship or a particular style of counseling, or a particular view on culture, or a particular technique in preaching, or – fill in the blank. Then, ultimately, our students make that their center and the generation after us loses the gospel.
What we celebrate is what we believe. Which means we, as parents, must make the faith our center. In your lifetime you will be treated to all kinds of parenting advice. Much of it is good. But ultimately your kids must know that this gospel you claim to believe is real to you. It’s not simply something you “stage act” on Sunday.
It is this kind of faith that is contagious from generation to generation.