Our family loves the zoo, especially the African safari, aquarium, elephants, monkeys, spiders, reptiles, and unusual birds. Okay – we like it all! It is one thing to read about these creatures from distant lands and exotic places, but quite another to get up close and personal with wild animals.
What is it that is so fascinating about seeing a tiger in real life? Why do we stand in awe upon our first glance at the enormity of a hippo, giraffe or elephant?
Coming close and personal after learning from afar changes our perspective. Our storybook tales put on flesh and finally they are real.
There is a word that is used to describe God coming to us, coming close to us. It is word that means to “put on flesh.” It is the word “incarnation”. As Christians, we believe the God of heaven – the God of eternity – came to us in and through Jesus. God “put on flesh”. He got close to us – wild and mysterious for sure, but in Jesus God suddenly became tangible and touchable.
His disciples (followers) walked with Him, talked with Him, touched Him, ate with Him, and lived in close proximity with Him. In Jesus, people encountered and experienced the one true God whom they’d only had peripheral access to before.
So how do we help our children understand the closeness to God that is available to them? How do we help them comprehend that He “put flesh on” so that our kids don’t just know about God, but really know Him?
In America there is no shortage of fabulous children’s ministries and youth groups for our children to “experience God” and learn about Him. For that I am profoundly thankful. However, in our rush to get them involved at church I fear we are missing out on the most influential person in their journey of faith: us.
Making God real to our children begins with us as parents. We are the examples for them. Our children are watching and listening. One of the most powerful life-changing ways for our children to see God as real and alive is to see mom and dad follow Him wholeheartedly. Putting on “the flesh of God” as we live out the “Word of God”.
So what does that look like in real, everyday life? How can we be the mom or dad who reveals God and models close relationship to Him to our children? Here are a few ways…
We make God our number one priority.
Our children know what is most important to us. How do we spend our time? What is the most exciting to us… a football game or the ways that God is working in our life?
We study the Bible and spend time with God.
This seems simple, but the reality is there are many times studying God’s word is put on the back burner of our busy lives. It begins with us taking time each day to read the Bible and letting that habit be noticed by our children. They are watching.
We teach our children the Bible.
It also is important for us to read the Bible with our children. For our younger children, we can simply read a few pages a day of a resource such as Jesus Calling for Little Ones or The Jesus Calling Bible Storybook. Both of these lay out the story of God in a simple and beautiful way. As they get older, we can use more in-depth devotionals and studies.
We allow our relationship with God to dictate how we live.
When we face decisions in our life we can talk about honoring God and following His will and call. As parents, we can be open with our struggles and how God is working in our life through the trials and the triumphs.
We reach out to others with the genuine love of Christ.
When our children see us serving and helping others, it speaks volumes. We can also take opportunities to let them know who is hurting and who needs prayer so they can join us. Praying for others is a powerful example of how our faith is real to us.
Before we can expect our children to see God as real, we must live out a faith that is real. This doesn’t mean that we live a perfect life. None of us is capable of that standard except Jesus Himself. But, if our life is authentic, through the ups and the downs our children see a mom and dad who cling to God more than anything else. As we live out an active and vibrant faith, we help the invisible God become visible.
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Making God become real to our children may seem daunting, when really it just reflects what we are doing in our everyday lives. What is one thing you do each day in your own life that points your children to our very real God?