Being Our Kids’ Savior

As Christians, we believe that we’re all born sinners, right?  Including our kids.  (some may disagree with at which point a child becomes accountable for their sin, but that’s neither here nor there)  Jesus saves us from our sin and ourselves.  Right? 

So, when we’re trying to raise our kids to love the Lord and follow Christ, why does so much of it center around behavior management?  Why do we punish our kids for sinning…and KEEP punishing them until they stop the undesirable behavior?  What are we trying to accomplish?   Are we holding them to a standard of perfection that they can never reach?  Are we punishing them for sins that we ourselves commit and receive no punishment for?  Why do we assume that we can teach our kids, through whatever means, to stop sinning?  Do we really think that through our teaching and punishment that we can root-out the sin that lives in their hearts?  That we can cure sin habits in an unregenerate child that we ourselves still struggle with?  If that were possible, they would need no savior, Christ would be irrelevant. 

Why do so many Christians parent as though Jesus was not the ONLY means through which our children have any hope of heart change…eventally resulting in behavior change?  Are we modeling the grace that we receive from the Gospel or setting a bar of moralism for our children?  Would we ever be content to let Christ work-out the details of our children’s sin issues without expecting them to solve it on their own before they even know how to speak a sentence?

And if our discipline is a “success,”…….the bad behavior is temporarily curbed….are our kids any closer to a relationship with Jesus?  Will it now be officially easier for them to open their heart to the Spirit?  Did we cure their sin?  Did their good behavior just gain them a free pass to heaven?  Are we really living the Gospel for our kids or just whitewashed moralism that sets them up for a lifetime of trying to “be good?”  I’m just wondering. 

What do you think?

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3 responses to “Being Our Kids’ Savior

  1. I think, by and large, the church has been taught that we have to make our kids obey. You know, man looks on the outward, but God looks on the heart. I think we get the idea that if our kids are good on the outside then they will automatically be good on the inside too. We forget about Jesus calling the pharisees “white washed seplechures”.

    We can’t cure or root out sin even thru harsh punishment. Why? Because sin starts in the heart, and like you said, only God can change the heart. But we can, gently and with grace, point our children to God and His ways when they do mess up.

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  2. So many questions! Well, according to a number of people I know, behavior management is the first step to forcing your child to realize that they are a sinner in need of a savior. These children must be managed, and it must start as soon as they show up – even with the small things like feeding, sleeping, playing. Gotta teach them to be faithful in the little things, I guess? The mere idea that convincing them they are sinners will break them down until they pray the sinner’s prayer and “get saved” is a separate but equally confusing idea to me.

    Certainly discipline is necessary to keep our children safe, to teach them how to function in the world and relate well to others. We don’t want our children to be wild little monkeys, but we also shouldn’t want them to be tiny moral robots who simply regurgitate the values that have been shoved down their throat either. I would guess that creating tiny moral robots is a heck of a lot easier than bearing with our children and allowing room for the Holy Spirit to do work in their hearts as we love them, guide them, and gently share the truth of Christ.

    In general, it’s so human of us to just want to have our hands in their salvation. We want to ensure it, and we want to MAKE it happen. I’m sure it’s out of nothing but love for their children and zeal for the Lord that many parents embark on the journey you speak of.

    I’m really just blabbing. No answers, just agreeing with you, that we cannot save our kids. Even if we are desperate to do so. Prayer is the answer here, I think.

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  3. I agree, Courtney, that probably all Christian parents have the best intentions and are doing the best they know how when they try to reach their kid’s hearts through punishing the sin out of them….it’s just, unfortunately, misguided. It’s a scary thought that while we have enormous influence over our kids’ future relationship with God, particularly in the ways they relate to Him based-on the ways we relate to them, we can’t insure or force a heart that loves Him. And I also, of course, agree with you that discipline is always needed…more on that to come…=)

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