By Elias Ayala (M.A.T. & Mdiv)
It’s one thing to share your faith with someone you don’t know at the train station, or at the mall, but how do we share our faith with an unbelieving son or daughter? Sharing our faith with those who are close to us can be a challenge. Jesus himself confronted such challenges. Upon visiting his home town he said, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home” (Mark 6:4). Interestingly enough, folks who knew Jesus from his home town merely saw him as Joseph’s son, the son of a carpenter. Furthermore, even Jesus’ own brother doubted him. Imagine trying to convince your brother or sister that you are the Son of God. For a believing parent with unbelieving children, the challenge is great given the fact that your life is an open book before them. They see both your strengths and your weaknesses. They see those moments of inconsistency. They see how your life truly reflects the faith you profess, and if you commonly exhibit a contradictory lifestyle to the faith you profess, it makes sharing your faith with them nearly impossible.
So how should a parent share their faith in Christ with their children? First, consistency is very important. When we live consistently with our faith in the presence of our children, this acts as a powerful witness of the life changing effect of knowing Jesus Christ. Your children need to see this in a consistent fashion. Perfection is not needed, but consistency is. Your children need to see mommy and daddy praying and reading the scripture alone and together as you both typify what it means to keep Christ at the center of the family. This life-example technique is often called “Incarnational Apologetics”. It is to make a defense of the Christian worldview via living out your faith in the presence of others. It is to live out your faith in the “flesh” (Incarnation: to take on flesh, i.e. the Incarnation of Jesus). It can be a powerful tool used by God to lead your children to faith in him.
On this note of consistency, it does well to consistently and intentionally talk about the things of God within the normal flow of your life. Whether it’s finding moments as you help your child work through problems in school or with friends, or around the dinner table, we need to be very intentional about applying the power of the spoken Word of God and the consistent application of its wisdom principles to everyday worldly affairs. When Godly wisdom spoken in love is applied to everyday problems and challenges, this allows your children to see the power of the truth of God’s Word in action hence helping them realize how relevant and important God’s Word is to everything we do. Perhaps one of the biggest roadblocks to faith for many young people is the sense of irrelevancy the Bible seems to have to real life problems and challenges. As apologetically minded parents, we need to work towards squashing that caricature.
Being both spiritually and intellectually equipped is key in successfully sharing your faith with your children. For this reason, as parents and Christians for that matter, we must work towards bathing ourselves in the Word of God so as to better answer our children’s questions and/or objections to the Christian faith. This may require us to study issues outside the immediate context of the Bible so as to understand what kind of questions young people are asking today. What do you say when your child asks, “How do you know the Bible is true?” We need to be equipped with real “reasons” for our faith lest our fluffy answers and shallow responses cause our children to look elsewhere for answers. How do we respond to our children when they ask about evolution, other religions, the reliability of the Bible, etc.? We need to “always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us for the reason for the hope that is in us.” (1 Peter 3:15).