Okay, more from Grace-Based Parenting. The following are some excerpts from a chapter on “A Strong Hope.” Developing a strong hope within our children. The author Tim Kimmel makes the point that Children develop a strong hope when their parents lead them and encourage them to live a great spiritual adventure.
Let me preface these excerpts by saying that many of the examples he uses (that I do not include) pertain to older children and when he discusses “safety” he is not talking about health and safety issues particularly regarding young children. This section offended me initially but as I read and reread it, now I am challenged and fired up! I would love to hear what some of you think and I hope this pushes you to pick this book up and read it through for yourself.
You may not want to hear this, but raising safe Christian kids is a spiritual disaster in the making. Your effort will produce shallow faith and wimpy believers. Kids raised in an environment that stresses safety are on track to be evangelical pushovers. They will tend to end up either overly critical of the world system to the point where they won’t want anything to do with the people of the world system – an idea that comes directly from Satan’s playbook. Or, they will become naive about the world system, which ultimately makes them putty in Satan’s hands. He chews up these kinds of people like they are spiritual McNuggets and swallows them whole. When they’re finally confronted with the full thrust of the world system as young adults, few know how to turn it into an opportunity for spiritual impact.
Safe Christianity is an oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp.” Living your life sold out for Jesus Christ has never been a way to enjoy a safe life. It may be a way to enjoy a good life, but not a safe one. That’s because Jesus isn’t safe, but He is always good. On the inside of His goodness (read “grace”), He offers a safe haven for a dangerous life to be lived out. That’s what a grace-based home can offer, too – a safe set of parents and siblings around whom a child can make life-changing decisions such as who’s going to be the master of his life.
These types of homes have families who rest in the confidence that God loves our children. The best time to begin building this kind of confidence in our children is when God gives them to us as babies. They need to spend the early years of their lives watching their parents live on the front lines of culture. But as your children get older , you need to allow them to experience spiritual dilemmas that enable them to trust in Christ and strengthen their hope in His goodness.
There are risks. We must put our confidence in a God who would not bring anything unpleasant into our children’s lives except for those things that He deliberately desires to use to mold them into His image. This overriding certainty should guide us as we make decisions on how to grow our children’s hope into a strong hope.