Notice that the faith the people of Israel recounted to their children was a communal one – not so much the testimony common today of one’s personal relationship with God, but rather a witness to the way in which God has led and dealt with the community. Many of the phrases in these verses [Deut 6:1-25] are customary creedal lines by which the Hebrew people reported their faith. In the same way, it is essential that we immerse our children in the Christian faith, the belief of a community that goes back to Abraham and Sarah, Mary and John, and that stretches throughout the globe. We don’t so much seek to develop in them their own faith as to make them an active part of the faith that already exists in a people.
Marva Dawn, Is It A Lost Cause?
First of all, if you haven’t read Marva Dawn’s Is It A Lost Cause: Having the Heart of God for the Church’s Children, then run, don’t walk to your Amazon cart or favorite indie bookstore and place an order. Now.
Okay. Done? Great. We read this book last month in our book club, and I loved it. And I found myself deeply meditating on this passage in particular, especially since my daughter has started expressing her faith in Jesus and my son was baptized two weeks ago at our Easter Vigil. What am I trying to do as I raise my children in the faith?
I remember in high school, as we prepared each year for our service trip to Mexico, each team member was required to give our testimony to the youth group – and sometimes the church. And without fail, every testimony started, “Well, I was raised in a Christian home…” It’s probably terrible to admit this, but I used to wish I had something dramatic to tell. Some major conversion story, some dabbling in drugs or something exciting, and then God’s amazing rescue of my soul. Because clearly growing up in a Christian home means I didn’t have much to be converted from.
But what if our job as parents isn’t – at least primarily – to develop our children in their own faith as it is to introduce them to a story? To tell them the story that God has been enacting throughout history? And if the good news isn’t simply that they are sinners saved by grace (which, while of course true, can be hard to connect with when you grow up a good Christian kid) but that God is busy and has a job for them? That he is writing a story, and they are supposed to be primary characters?