When we become Christians, one of the biggest challenges is learning to follow Jesus. We're not natural followers, we want to do what we want to do it ... when we want to do it. Staying on the narrow path can be hard - especially after a lifetime of being on the broad path. Is it any wonder then that our children also have difficulties following the rules? Does your family have reasons to follow Jesus?
If we are going to learn to follow Jesus - and teach our children to do the same - we have to figure out why. When we understand our reasons for following God then we will be better able to do it even when it is contrary to our desires. Here are my top reasons to follow Jesus:
Understanding your reasons for following Jesus gives you a starting point to help your child grow spiritually. If you can communicate your reasons in a way your child can understand, they will be able to find their own reasons to follow Christ. Discipleship starts at home with us teaching our children how to follow the rules.
One of the best ways to help your child's spiritual maturity is to include biblical training in every aspect of life. Here are some quick ways to do that every day:
1. When you're watching movies, highlight the spiritual lessons so they learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not. You'd be surprised at the spiritual lessons to be learned from movies - I was completely blown away by the number of lessons about using your talents for God in Captain America: The First Avenger .
2. When giving instructions or advice, try to include a Bible character or reference a Bible verse when you are doing so. You don't have to quote the chapter and verse (in most cases it might be better not to) but include the biblical principle.
3. Encourage them to read the Bible by pointing out the amazing benefits of reading the Bible. One cool way to get them to read the Bible is to listen to a dramatized version of the Bible or watch scripturally-sound animations.
4. Teach them to respect adults and other authority figures. All too soon your little prince or princess will have to join the ranks of students in the classroom. They need to understand the importance of respecting their teachers. Even if you're homeschooling, your child needs to learn how to follow the rules.
In high school, one of my biggest challenges was learning to follow the rules. I went through a period when I was known as the rebel because I found a way to do the opposite of what was said--not enough to get into any big trouble, but enough so people would know I disagreed with whatever it was. So, if the dress code was white, I wore black. When they said move left, I moved right…it took a lot for me to learn to follow the rules (even when I didn’t want to).
At first, I did it because I got tired of fighting everything and everyone. And then, I followed the rules because it no longer fit the woman I had become in Christ. Once I figured out my reasons for following Jesus, I had to learn to march to a new beat. So I’m putting together a few tips to help you and your child learn to follow the rules.
Learn what the rules are: Let’s face it, everything has rules from the way the universe is run to the way we use our cell phones. It’s important to know and understand the rules and how they apply to our behavior. It may also help to understand why the rules exist.
Align the rules with your values: You are more likely to follow the rules if you believe in them. Before you sign up with an organization whether it is for school or employment, find out what they stand for. Ask yourself: are they behaving ethically? Morally? Fairly? Do I want to be associated with the values this company stands for? How does this line up with what I believe as a Christian? Teach your child how to do this.
Know your boundaries: Okay, so you’ve done the research, you’ve studied the rules; you’ve aligned them with your values. What do you do when the rules on paper are different than what is practiced?
It’s at this point that you have to know what your tipping point is: your school claims to believe strongly in students achieving their educational goals and that’s lovely. But what if they allow you to do that at any cost--even cheating? Your company claims to be an ethical provider of services but you find out that they are overcharging and under-delivering…your boss expects you to be a part of this conspiracy--what do you do?Tweet: God is desperately trying to save us but do we really want to be saved? http://bit.ly/2cSgeeG
Decide: If you are unable to follow the rules of men, how are you going to follow the rules of God? I know you’re probably wondering, “Isn’t this the same person who used to be called a rebel?” True, but that was before I knew Jesus, since then I’ve been trying my very best to move away from my tendency to rebel and to learn to conform to His standards. Sometimes it helps to remind myself of my reasons to follow Jesus.
Understand: Does rebellion fit into the identity of who you are right now? Does it align with the identity of the individual you hope to become? Does it match who you are in Christ? As we grow and mature, we step into our identities in Christ. We realize we’re no longer drawn towards some of the things we used to do.
In the words of Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:11 "When I was a child, I talked like a child I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me" (NKJV).
As Christians, we have to remember that God is desperately trying to save us. But we have a choice to make: do we want to be saved?
There are lots of lessons to be learned about following the rules from the children of Israel. God chose them out of all the nations to be His priests. They were supposed to teach the world what He expected.
He gave them rules to follow. Leviticus and Deuteronomy are basically just giant rule books explaining how God expects His people to worship, live, and serve Him. As long as they followed the guidelines, they were fine.
But when they disobeyed, they had to suffer the consequences. The same thing is true for us--we have a choice: are we are going to line up with God or do our own thing?Tweet: What happens if we gain the world but lose our souls? http://bit.ly/2cSgeeG
We can do the unethical thing that our boss wants us to do or “excel” at school by cheating, but at what cost? We gain success in this world but lose out in the sight of God. Are you willing to take that chance?
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am in the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life ”(John 8:12 ESV).
Jesus said to Him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes two the Father except through me" (John 14: 6 ESV).
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).
"If you abide in me, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8: 31-32 ESV).
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 ESV).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; keep, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).
"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12 ESV).
The thief only comes to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10: 10-11 ESV).
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or be dismayed ”(Deuteronomy 31: 8 ESV).
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3: 23-24 ESV).
Understanding our reasons for following Jesus is a critical part of our walk with Christ. It is also a skill we must teach our children as we prepare them to take their place in the world.