When we choose to follow Christ, we are filled with a confident hope of spending eternity with our creator in Heaven. Heaven, we believe, is a perfect place where there is neither pain nor sickness nor death. It is a place filled with the light of the Lord. It is a place full of love where we want for nothing.
In that place, we will not have to worry about how our environment (the broken world around us) will affect our children. We will not have to worry about teaching our children about the love of God because they will feel it in every fiber of their being and will feel the same immeasurable joy that we will experience for the rest of eternity.
While Heaven is our eternity, this planet is our current reality. And for the 70, 80, 90, or maybe 100 years we are here, we have a responsibility to teach our children a few things.
“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.
Despite what the world tries to convince us, God loves us, all of us. Despite what religion has tried to command us, the simple truth is that we are called to love God and love our neighbor. As people, and especially as parents, we need to show our kids how to follow God's command. They are looking to us to be the example, to model the right behavior of love. They care less about what we say and more about what we do.
We can spout off verses and keep the radio station tuned to the Christian music channel in the car, but if we are cursing the driver in front of us on the way to school each morning, which do you think speaks louder to your kid, the music or the curse?
We can lock down their electronic devices so they can't access anything inappropriate, but when they hear us watching inappropriate movies after they go to bed, what are we teaching them?
We can talk about how bad drugs and alcohol are, but when they see us staggering through the house on a Friday night or passed out on the couch Saturday morning, what are we really saying to them?
We can talk to them about loving our neighbors and serving our community, but when they hear us talking about people behind their back, what does that teach them about love?
I'm convicted. Are you? I've failed at all those things as a parent.
What do you think your kids listen to more? Your words, or your actions?
We can blame it on our parents. Sure. We can pass them the torch and complain that they made mistakes in raising us. Or, we can take responsibility, remember that real change in this world starts with us, and take steps to become better parents, and by default, better people.
I'm not trying to tell you what to watch or whether it's ok to drink or not. That's up to you to decide. I'm trying to tell you (and myself) that we are called to be the example to our kids of how to live in, and navigate this world. But that's not always easy. Because God gives us free will, we have to choose how to live each day and not everyone's path is the same. And since we live in a world that is broken and filled with sin, it can be hard to know where to look for answers.
1 Corinthians 11:1
And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.
Paul reminds us that there is an example we can look to. Because God loves us so much, and because he understands we have an addiction to sin, he sent his son, Jesus, to show us how to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength -- and to love others as ourselves. Jesus shows us that we do not have to continue sinning. We do not have to continue to allow this world to hold us down. We do not have to allow this world to dictate how we live our lives. We have within us the same power Jesus used to call Lazarus back from the grave, the same power that expelled the demons from Mary Magdalene, the same power that healed the sick, and gave sight to the blind.
Believer! You have the same power in you that brought Jesus back from the dead. Call upon it. Use it. The Holy Spirit is your connection to your creator. It is your life line and will show you the path away from sin and towards peace. Look to God for the answers you seek. Choose change and take the necessary steps towards healing so that you can be the example that your children need in their lives.
You're going to be your child's example in one way or another. How do you want to be remembered?
Invest time into building their character and not trying to control what they do. Be consistent in your discipline. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If "maybe" means no, then say "no." Work towards being a better you. If they see you taking steps towards improving your self, they will not only learn how to do the same thing, but they will respect you for admitting your faults and taking action towards change.
Lastly, let's remember that we aren't in this alone. Lean on your friends and family and look to them for help and answers. Seek out those people who have positive relationships with their children and learn from them.