The Bible tells us that there are three senses in which someone is saved; they are saved, they are being saved, and they will be saved. Believe it or not when we understand this concept we will parent differently, possibly even more effectively! And if we can help our kids to understand these three senses of salvation then we will help them to live with confidence as they grow older. Why? Because if we think of salvation as a process instead of an event then we will have hope, but not only that, if we help them understand that salvation is always about moving, then we can also help them understand how we can lose ground as well as gain it. This is sometimes a hard lesson, but it is critical if our kids are going to live with perseverance, character and motivation.
In Romans 13:11-14 the Apostle Paul uses a word picture to help us understand what it means to be in movement in our faith commanding the Roman believer to “clothe themselves with Christ.” He wasn’t tell them to convert – they were already converts! What Paul was saying is that it is possible for someone to have once believed and yet not live in imitation of Jesus. He was speaking about salvation in the sense that they were being saved and that they needed to work to become more and more like Christ. How do you help your kids to understand that we have to make daily decisions to follow Jesus? Let me give some suggestions.
First with pre-school kids you might play a simple game of follow the leader and Simon Says. Help them to understand that in the same way that they can imitate YOU they should imitate Jesus. Make a poster and put clothes on a figure either by drawing them on or cutting them out of a magazine. As you do, as your kids, “What do you think Jesus is like?” Make a list of characteristics that point to a different article of clothing. Make the t-shirt “loving” and then each day when you help them put on their t-shirts remind them that on your poster Jesus’s t-shirt was his love. We need to love just like Jesus.
Or depending on the age of your kids play dress up with them (force your teenagers to do it too!) Have them become another person. Even let them raid your closet and have your boys dress up like dad and the girls dress up like mom. Have them act out the funny things that mom and dad say and do. Then give them a fictional character to imitate using whatever dress up clothes they can find and play dress up charades trying to figure out who they are pretending to be. After you’ve had some good laughs pull out the Bible, read them Romans 13:11-14 and ask them what they would wear if they were going to dress up like Jesus. Ask them how would HE act and how would HE talk? Then ask them if they are good at imitating Jesus? This is a good question!
If you wanted to help your kids remember that they need to choose to imitate or clothe themselves with Jesus every morning maybe take an older pair of socks and cut a hole where the big toe. Tell them every time they put on that sock, and every time they feel the hole in their shoes or boots that they should ask themselves, “Am I becoming holy like Jesus right now?” It might even turn into a great way to tell their friends about Jesus if their holes are spotted by a classmate. Teach your kids what Peter wrote 1 Peter 1:14-16 (NLT) 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
What you are doing is trying to find ways to put emotion and action to what you would like them to learn.
With older kids, the whole idea of having been saved, being in the process of being saved and looking forward to when we are finally fully saved is fairly easy to describe. Help them to remember when they gave their heart to Jesus. Ask them if they would like to rededicate their life to Jesus. Ask them if there are things that God has saved them from and ask them where they are struggling. Remind them that everyone is in the process of being saved from sin and what we want to do as opposed to what God wants us to do. One of my favourite passages that I memorized when I was in jr. high is Philippians 1:6 (NLT) 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. What a great promise! Just make sure you help your kids to feel both the weight of sin and the incredible feeling of forgiveness!
We need to remember that whatever age our kids are at, we need to talk often about salvation, sin and what we have to look forward to when we finally meet Jesus!
I said that this would help you parent better and if you allow it to sink deep into your heart it actually will. First of all, know that even parents are on a pathway of salvation! You don’t need to become stuck in the mistakes and missteps you make as a parent. But second, let your kids make mistakes too. One of the major causes of anxiety in children is an expectation of perfection. If God doesn’t have that for you, then you probably shouldn’t expect it of your kids. Study God’s grace this week and ask Him to teach you how to live in it.