“For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”
Romans 2:28-29 NLT
What is our children’s position before God? Does there come a point when they emerge from the covering of their parents (assuming they are Christians of course) and stand on their own two feet, responsible to God for their own relationship with Him. There is such a time, of course. But before that, Christian parents must bring up their children to have a knowledge of God, teaching them to pray, telling them Bible stories. Taking them to church and Sunday School. We used to have a great time on long car journeys singing the songs and choruses our children had learned in their Sunday School services. As a family we became closer to each other somehow, as we all became closer to God.
But I have heard about some Christian parents who don’t believe that they should teach their children about their faith, preferring instead to allow them to make up their own minds when they are old enough. But such a view is flawed. It would be like saying to a 17-year old that it’s his or her decision about whether or not they obey driving laws. We, of course, teach them road sense from an early age for their own safety.
The Bible says that we should teach our children about God and His ways. Back in Deuteronomy 6:1-2 we read, “These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life”. Later in the same chapter we read, “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
There was a special place in Jesus’ ministry for children. We read in Matthew 19:14-15, “But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left“. And there are several Proverbs like this one, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Paul pointed out to his hearers that their standing before God has nothing to do with their birth credentials or whether or not they were circumcised. It was all about getting their hearts right with God. It’s all about “a change of heart produced by the Spirit”, he said. And he also pointed out that there had to be a time when the umbilical cord to their parents was cut, to allow the children to make their own decision for Christ. There has to be a radical cutting off from our past and instead a commitment to a new way in God’s presence. Paul himself made such a decision. We read in Galatians 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me“. And it’s the same for us pilgrims. Like Paul, we too must trust alone in our wonderful Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Dear Father God. Thank You for reminding us that You are in the heart-changing business. We pray for the heart surgery we need to truly be Your followers. In Jesus’ name. Amen.