If you’re the mom or dad of young children, you might be thinking along the same lines as me when it comes to parenting your kids into godliness:
“If I can just replicate some of the good things my parents did and avoid a few of their mistakes, then I’m doing well as a parent.”
For generations of Christian parents, that statement rang true. It seemed good enough to teach our kids the stories of Noah, Moses and Abraham and it was only right that we attend worship service on Sunday morning. That was the winning formula for raising a future member of the body of Christ.
Oh, how times have changed for parenting
For the first time in American history, the Christian mother and father are confronted with a culture that seeks to swallow their children into a pluralistic, anything-goes worldview. The only sin in our modern day is to call anything a sin. This was not the case for my parents and it certainly wasn’t the situation my grandparents faced.
They lived in a day and age when the culture-at-large generally respected the teachings of the Bible albeit not wholeheartedly submitting to its implications. To put it simply, the American culture for centuries patted the Church on the back. Now, it seeks to slap her in the face. For recent examples, just look at Atlanta Police Chief Kelvin Cochran or the statewide college ban of Intervarsity Chrisitan Fellowship in California. In the coming decades, the cost for claiming the name of Christ will only go up.
In 5 years, my oldest son will be old enough to move away.
When he leaves the nest, the vultures of the culture will circle him until he caves to the modern demands for conformity. To that end, I’m beginning to shift my approach in teaching him and his siblings the things of God. I’m telling them about the martyrs of the faith and pressing into their hearts Jesus’ words, “If the world hates you, remember that they hated me first.” I’m showing them clips from the Bible Series where Stephen was stoned to death and then challenging them to begin trusting God for that kind of boldness. For now, they look at me like I’m a little weird.
In a recent address to his faculty in Louisville, seminary President Al Mohler cast this bold vision in light of our new culture:
“Maybe the mission of this school is actually to train up a generation of preachers, missionaries and evangelists who will be martyrs.”
As parents living in a culture that is rapidly marginalizing Christ followers, we’re not just raising our children to be future church members anymore, we are quite possibly raising future gospel martyrs. Our highest calling now is to begin building a generation that looks a lot less like us and a lot more Stephen or Paul; with a ballast of conviction that renders them unsinkable.
Times have changed. But thankfully, we serve a God who hasn’t.
The God who oversaw the crucifixion of His Son is the same God who will give our children the grace to endure as the society around them grows in hatred of them. As parents, our job is to simply prepare them for this reality. As Jim Elliott so eloquently put it, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”