Its often said that our families are those who know us best, they are the ones who see our flaws and our faith up close and personal, for those of us who are parents I think that ought to cause us to stop and think about some of the dangers this poses in terms of our children and the gospel. The gospel is caught as well as taught, in fact I think primarily it is taught as it is caught - our children will see how the gospel impacts our lives and it will help determine their reaction to it.
Here are some of the dangers we face as parents:
1. Disconnect between public and private faith. If we are one thing with others and another at home our children will conclude that is OK, that it is normal. Or that the gospel can't change and is therefore irrelevant to them.
2. A failure to answer the whys. Our boys are always asking why questions - some just get silly, like why is a frog called a frog? Or repetitive when every answer is met by another why. But some of the whys need answering - why do we parent differently, why do we read the bible, why do we give, why do we give thanks to God for our food. And the answers we give must be honest and not legalistic - we don't pray, read, give because God says so, we do those things because we love our Father as his children love the things he loves - we want to bring God glory.
3. A personal love for the bible. We must not just read it with them (notice the assumption here!!!) but be reading it for ourselves and talk to them about what we read. Do we share with our children what is exciting us, challenging us, encouraging us at the moment from the very word of God?
4. A private love for prayer. As with bible reading we must not just pray with our children, but we must relate to God by talking to our heavenly father ourselves all the time, and our children should catch that it is just a natural response, and an immediate response not a delayed one.
5. Repentance in action. Often those we love and are closest to see us at our most sinful. Our children see us sin but do they see us repent? There are times we need to ask our children for their forgiveness and pray to God modelling the need to change and our love of our saviour and desire to please our Father.
6. Commitment to God's people. The church is an amazing and multi-splendoured thing but how do our children think we think about it? Ephesians 2 gives us an amazing picture of the price God paid to reconcile his people and create the church, if we do not hold God's people in the same regard God does and commit to them in the same way then our children will conclude the gospel cannot change us, it is not that important and is not worth committing to. Those real relationships are observed and speak volumes for the gospel.
7. Commitment to our children. What our children need is to see us as parents grappling with the gospel, continually rubbing grace into our lives, dealing with our sin, living out our reconciled relationships and loving God and pursuing his glory. What our children need is parents with our hearts on fire for God.
But we can't manufacture that, we can pray for it, we can increase our appetite for God by studying his word, and we can encourage others to pray that for us, as we understand the character and gospel of God we will by God's Spirit through his word see our hearts set aflame.