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We can’t trust our experiences, our emotions, or our traditions and backgrounds when it comes to our faith. When it comes to lifting up our soul to God, there is simply too much being staked upon something too flimsy if we choose to make these eternal decisions based upon our feelings, experiences, traditions or even our perceptions. Our faith must be based upon something objective and true. Our faith must stand upon a rock that is more solid than the personal assurances of any ordinary man. You know it, and I know it.
But do our kids?
The Sacramento Bee has posted some of the most amazing pictures of an Islamic Religious festival in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Thousands of Sufi Muslims travel to Rajasthan every year for the Urs festival in order to pay tribute to the Islamic saint, Hazrat Chishti. What captured my attention about these pictures is the fervor, devotion, and worship that these individuals are giving to their god as they make this annual pilgrimage. In several pictures individuals are laying prostrate on the ground as they scream out to their god. In one image a woman is seen dancing only to be seen in the next image as having fallen into a trance. Whatever other observations you may have, it is undeniable that the individuals participating in this festival are engaging in real worship.
Check it out for yourself:
Please don’t miss this. These people are engaged in real worship. It is genuine, heart-felt, sincere worship. But it is all false. These poor people have placed their faith in something that is not objectively true. Their worship is genuine enough, but it’s worship of a false deity, a pagan god. This ought to clue us into the fact that it is possible to be genuinely engaged in worship, but completely missing a real relationship with God.
Many of the Sufi Muslims are probably engaging in worship at this shrine because it has produced a powerful emotional experience. Perhaps it still continues to do so. Others may be engaging in worship simply because they’ve always done so, and it is tradition. All of this leads me to the conclusion that we can’t trust our experiences, our emotions, or our traditions and backgrounds when it comes to our faith. When it comes to lifting up our soul to God, there is simply too much being staked upon something too flimsy if we choose to make these eternal decisions based upon our feelings, experiences, traditions or even our perceptions. Our faith must be based upon something objective and true.
Now that sounds good, but is this what we’re doing with our kids? Are we leading our kids to embrace the truth of Christianity or are we leading them to merely agree with mom and dad that God is good and that Jesus died on the cross for our sins? While you and I may agree that we need objective truth in our lives in order for our faith to be real, do we practice that with our kids? Do we seek to cultivate a genuine heart set upon seeking after God at all times, or are we content with our kids simply being Christian and agreeing with us?
In other words, are we indoctrinating them into real yet painfully false worship, or are we leading them to real faith and real worship of the true God?
The Apostle Peter makes a powerful statement in 2 Peter 1.
“For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic Word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:17–21, ESV)
Peter states that he, himself, was an eye-witness to everything that went on with Jesus. He says, “I was there; I saw it happen!” Just as soon as he asserts the fact that neither he nor any of the apostles were fooled because they had seen everything with their own two eyes, he goes on to point to something more certain: the Scriptures.
This is fascinating to me! The Apostle reassures the church that he saw everything with his own two eyes, but then he attempts to ground their faith in something more powerful than his own testimony. As far as Peter was concerned, the church had to go above the testimony of an Apostle back to Scripture itself.
Kids have to go above mom and dad in their faith. Genuine faith must be fostered in our children by bringing them to a place where they trust in and lean upon God’s Word for themselves. As long as they take our word for it, we are simply indoctrinating them with our own personal opinions. If this is the case, then our kids will have learned to ground their faith upon experiences, emotions, and traditions that we have instilled in them through our parenting and personal habits. This indoctrination will lead to genuine false worship at best. No, our kiddos must learn to search the Scriptures for themselves, and they must learn to connect their faith with something that is beyond the simple assurance of mom and dad.
In other words, kids have to go above mom and dad in their faith. How do we do this in our homes? One way is to make sure that your children understand that all of your own actions are grounded in Scripture. This means that when you go to church, you teach your children that you are participating in worship because God commands it for our joy. Sometimes it is necessary to miss church due to personal illness or some other serious concern. In these moments be sure to clarify how the Scriptures allow for these momentary absences from church. When your kids see you put money in the offering plate at church, be sure to explain to them what the Bible says about giving back to God and being a faithful steward of the resources that He has provided. Make sure to explain everything that you do from a Scriptural perspective. Try to connect all of life’s activities back to Book, Chapter, and Verse of the Bible.
Most importantly, when it comes time to correct your children, be sure to ask them about their behavior in light of God’s Word. Kids must see that they are living beneath the weight of God’s Word. In all of this, we also must be living in light of God’s Word. When we, as parents, fail to live up to Scripture in painfully obvious ways in front of our children, then we must acknowledge our own failures before our children and ask their forgiveness. The only way our kids’ faith will go above mom and dad is if mom and dad’s faith will go above themselves.
Moms and Dads, I pray that you shepherd what God has entrusted to you with humility and without hypocrisy. Shepherd well!