Living For Jesus

Developing a Child’s Faiths

There are basic things that all children should know about the Christian faith. In many denominations you can find these written into catechisms. Catechisms go into great depth about every particular of the faith. These are the facts of the faith as well as the beliefs of the faith. What I will list here would not be considered the facts of the faith. Instead I will list the things that children need to know in their heart, in the depth of their spirit.

First children need to know who God the Father is. That may seem simple on its surface. We often teach small children that God is love, but that love is reflected differently throughout the Bible. We can show God’s love when he chastens, when he protects, when he provides. Children need to know about all the attributes of God. A short list would include God is faithful, almighty, all knowing, peace, our provider, our healer, and our deliverer. As you read the Bible in your daily devotions, begin a list of the attributes of God that you could share with your children. When preparing a particular lesson for your children, pause and ask God what He specifically wants to reveal about Himself through that lesson. As you teach your children about a particular aspect of God’s character begin to point out instances in your everyday life that demonstrate that attribute. When a child is saved from a bad accident, pause with them to thank God for his protection. God as protector has become more real for that child.

Second, children need to know who they are. They need to know that they are the beloved of God, that He knew all about them before they were ever born, and that He has a good and marvelous plan to make their life special. They also need to know that they are sinners. They need to understand what sin is. For young children that means the naughty things they do. Small children easily grasp this concept. As children get older they need to understand that sin is also the wrong things we desire in our hearts, as well as the right things we neglect to do. Children need to know that sin separates us from God. This takes us back to one of God’s attributes. God is holy, and those who are sinful cannot enter His presence because He is holy. This doesn’t change the fact that God still loves sinners. Since He does love sinners, He has made a way to bring us back into his presence. That leads to the third thing that children need to know to develop a strong faith.

Third, children need to know who Jesus Christ is. They need to know that Jesus is God. That He was there when the world was created. They need to know Him as the word of God made flesh. They can meet Jesus in the Bible as they learn what He did while he was a man on earth. Just as God the father is love, our healer, and our deliverer, so Jesus is love, our healer and our deliverer. Children must especially come to know Jesus as their savior. He will forgive their sins, if they ask him, and will intercede for them with God the Father. As children learn more about Jesus, they are learning more about the person they should emulate throughout their life. The popular phrase "What Would Jesus Do?" can be found on t-shirts, bracelets, key chains and posters. Too often the thought behind that question is mocked with comments about how Jesus didn’t have to worry about this specific situation. There were no R-rated movies for Jesus to worry about. They tie the question to specifics. We want our children to tie the question to the spirit behind the specifics. If they know who Jesus is, they will know what He would do in a particular situation. As you read your Bible make a list of the attributes of Jesus noting the portions of scripture that reveal them to us.

Fourth, children must know who the Holy Spirit is. In my church they called the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost. I remember singing about the Holy Ghost as a child. I wasn’t sure what the Holy Ghost was, but I did know I didn’t want to meet Him in a dark alley. I didn’t know who the Holy Spirit was at all. Our children need to know that the Holy Spirit is their comforter and their teacher. They need to know that He will help them to overcome temptation, to find and stay on the path that God desires them to take, and to help them understand more and more of God and His ways. Too often we tell children that if they ask Jesus to forgive them and come into their hearts that all they have to do from then on is be good. Have you ever tried to be good. Then you know that eventually you fail. I remember struggling greatly to be good, failing and struggling some more. Eventually I gave up the struggle because I saw it as useless. Praise God, the Holy Spirit never let go of me. I was in His care even though I didn’t know Him. Children need to learn, as I needed to learn, that we walk by faith through grace. We have faith that God will be there for us and believe that He provides the grace for us to do those things we cannot do in and of ourselves. As we come to know the Holy Spirit, we come to know the grace which he offers to help us do what we know to be right. What a relief that I never have to be good any more. And yet now that I no longer try to be good, but to live by grace, I find that I do live a better life. The Holy Spirit is our helper. When we cry, "I can’t, please help me," He abundantly supplies the assistance we need. Children also need to learn that the Holy Spirit is their comforter. In times of great distress He can minister a peace that passes understanding. To your lists of the attributes of God and Jesus add one more to list the work of the Holy Spirit.

As your children grow you will find it possible to discuss these things on an ever deeper level. It’s important that your teaching should not just be "head" knowledge. Your real desire is to instruct the heart. I remember once comparing a truth that I had known intellectually to one which the Lord had written on my heart as a change from black and white to technicolor. We want our children to have technicolor relationships with the Lord. As you teach your children about various attributes of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, look for those special moments that God will bring into your children’s lives to make that word real and living to them. If they do not recognize these themselves, point them out. You’ll find by looking for God’s hand all the time that you discover more of God in your life than you ever realized.

Copyright ©  1999 Beverly S. Krueger