Let the Little Children Come to Me: Part 4
The Call to Follow Christ
There are no age restrictions on belief! Jesus summons all to follow Him, including children. But, as stated in parts 1-3 of this series, there must be a clear understanding of God, sin, and our absolute inability to please God apart from Christ.
In part 3, I shared the story of how my daughter understood her inability to please God because of her habitual lying. It was through the process of receiving physical consequences that fostered the most important spiritual conversation and ultimately led to her faith in Christ. Now, she would be able to say “no” to her flesh and say “yes” to God! The burden of sin was removed and she was on the path to a life-long journey of following Jesus.
I then explained to her that the more she followed Jesus, the more she would act like Jesus. When believers live like Jesus, it is like a picture of fruit on trees. As Matthew 7:17 says, “every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.” If she truly was a child of God, then she would begin to bear good fruit.
So when our child makes a profession of faith, we should expect that they will have fruit; however, you need to remember that their childishness may result in miniature fruit. Your child may not immediately begin to:
get up early to read their Bible
offer to help clean up after themselves
always be kind to their siblings
be perfectly submissive to authority
consistently choose the right/wise action to take
To expect these things of them would not be reasonable. Children are able to bear good fruit, but sometimes it doesn’t look exactly the same as someone who has come to know Christ as an adult.
As parents, we are to expect good fruit from someone who has the Holy Spirit living in them, but remember that size of the fruit and how much the fruit yields are different issues. It is reasonable to expect improvement over time and the desire to be obedient to the things of the Lord. We need to remember that even in our OWN spiritual life we are dealing with sin struggles that have plagued us from our conversion. While we may have improved, we still have a long way to go. As the Lord deals patiently with us and teaches us how to live holy before Him, we want to have the same patience with our children as the Lord teaches THEM how to live holy before Him.
Food for Thought
Do you expect more fruit in your child’s life than in your own?Is there a steady diet of God’s Word in the lives of your children so they have the means to begin bearing fruit?
Focus on Motivation
My dear, faithful, husband was so consistent as he sat down in the evenings with our children to teach them from the scriptures. Over time, as he taught through the Bible, he always focused on the motivation behind the action whether from an Old Testament story, a Psalm, or New Testament letter. He would often say things like:
“People who love God want to obey.”
“Christians love to pray.”
“True Worshippers say ‘thank you’ to God and sing His praises.”
“Jesus loved people and wants us to love people too.”
We refrained from saying things like, “You haven’t volunteered to pray at dinner so I don’t think you are saved” or “I told you to clean your room six times and you are not obeying so you must not have the Holy Spirit”.
Be very careful in making a judgment call on your child’s heart in this way. Instead ask questions that will cause them to evaluate their own desires and reasons for on-going rebellion and sin.Just like any other believer, young or old, the Spirit will teach and convict through the Word of God and will reveal necessary changes that need to happen. It will happen, but maybe not in enough time that is going to make your life convenient.
What do you do with the ordinances of baptism and communion?
The Scriptures call believers to engage in two ordinances: baptism and communion. Since all of our children made early professions of faith (8 years old and under), we decided that we wanted our child to ask to be baptized before they took part in the Lord’s Table.
Here is our reasoning: both baptism and communion are public expressions of faith in Christ, and we wanted them to publicly profess Christ and articulate their faith through baptism before they participated in the church’s public celebration of communion.Invariably, a conversation might go like this after church:
Child: “Can I have bread and grape juice”?
Us: “That is for communion and communion is for those who have made a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ”.
Child: “I believe in Jesus.”
Us: “Jesus said if you confess me before men, then I will confess you before my Father who is in heaven. You need to make a public profession of faith in Christ through baptism before you take communion.”
One child would say that they were too scared to speak in front of people and so they waited. Another didn't bring it up again for many months after that conversation. But our son was very passionate about getting baptized at 5 years old. He asked about it several times and wouldn’t let it go. Our church, at the time, rented a building with no baptistery so we asked to use a friend’s jacuzzi (it was March in Idaho) and gathered his peers and their families to come and participate in the celebration. When my 8-year-old daughter found out, she asked why she couldn’t be baptized also. We told her we were waiting for her to ask! They both wrote out testimonies and met with a fellow elder from our church to go over it. My husband baptized them and we had a big party afterward.It might look differently in each home, but the point is that we wanted the child to initiate from their own heart. Our responsibility in this process is to expose them to baptism and let them know that God desires this for believers. We did this in a couple of ways:
reading through the book of Acts so that they saw the pattern of belief and baptism
keeping our children in the worship service so they could witness people being baptized and taking communion. We would excuse them to Children’s Church after that part of the service.
This is just one way that you can approach baptism and communion in children who have professed Christ at a young age.
Food for Thought
Have your children witnessed believer’s baptism? Have they heard stories of people who have placed their faith in Christ?Have your children witnessed communion? Have you had gospel conversations as a result?
Being Faithful, Not Successful
Hopefully, these four installments have encouraged you to continue to point your children to God and take every opportunity to point them to the person and work of Christ so they might be saved and lived for His glory. This is a long and hard process that seems like it may never bear fruit, but God calls us to faithfulness, not success. We need to trust His word will go out and do the work which it intends to do.