“Absolute Truth. Absolute Truth. Everything in the Bible is the Absolute Truth.”
I can still hear my daughter singing this chant she learned in her two-year-old Sunday school class. My husband and I had her sing it over and over again because of how adorably expressive she was—her clapping hand motions were as loud as she sang. By God’s grace, almost twenty years later, the words of this song are settled deep into her heart. She knows the absolute truth of His Word, trusts in His righteousness for her, and now with a voice that moves me to tears, sings of His truths each week at her campus’ RUF gathering.
But in holding firm to the Truth about Jesus, she increasingly finds herself at the crossroads of our rapidly changing culture and the Word of God. As do we all. Our culture today is very different than it was when I began parenting, and certainly from the world in which I grew up.
Truth today is not absolute, and the Bible is not seen as authoritative. Instead, pop culture tells us to do “whatever makes you happy” and “you do you.” Even Christians have bought into this mindset, sometimes without even realizing it. But the less we hear the true gospel and spend time in God’s Word, the more susceptible we become to subtle twists to the truth.
Teaching Truth to Our Children
In the same way officials at the U.S. Treasury only study real dollar bills in order to identify a counterfeit, if we don’t know exactly what the gospel story is and who God reveals himself to be in Scripture, we can easily think because something “sounds” right, it is. Or because something is labeled “Christian” it must be “good,” when in fact much of today’s “Christian” teaching has been infused with unbiblical, secular thought.
If this is our tendency and temptation to confuse false doctrine with truth, how much more difficult will it be for the coming generations, bombarded with alternate worldviews, to discern truth. It’s enough to make us throw our hands up in hopelessness, much like I see parents do in regard to other aspects of raising teens. “Teens will be teens,” they say. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Not if we prioritize our children’s spiritual development with the same fervor we look after their mastery of academics, athletics, and fine-arts.
What I’m not suggesting is that if we follow a list of certain steps our kids will turn out “right” and believe what we do. Ultimately, God is sovereign our children, and this gives me great hope knowing that even when I fail, he still has my children in mind. But as Deuteronomy 6 instructs, we are to talk to our children about God and the things of God all the time:
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (vv. 6-9).
Along this line, I’ve been struck as I’ve read through the Bible how often the Israelites’ story is retold in great and exact detail, recalling for God’s people the truth of God’s covenant steadfast love and faithfulness. It’s because of how forgetful they were (as are we!) and so the next generation would know all that God had done.
When You Go Along the Way
Therefore, our gospel conversations with our kids need to be on-going, regular occurrences. But for this to happen we need to be in God’s Word. We cannot impart to our kids what we ourselves don’t know. For out of the overflow of our hearts, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). In other words, only what is on our hearts and minds— what is valuable to us —will naturally flow from us.
“When you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” – the all the time that Deuteronomy 6 speaks of may sound burdensome. But when all of life is seen through the lens of the gospel, we begin to see opportunities all around us. My husband and I have found it’s true— we have teaching moments at the dinner table, in the car (my kids call them “car sermons,” but that’s okay), while watching a show (the pause button is my husband’s favorite technological advancement), at ball games, and in the backyard.
By interjecting the truth of God’s word into every situation, our kids are being shaped by a gospel grid without even realizing its impact. This is exactly what my husband and I have hoped for! It’s exciting to see our children interpreting daily life in light of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. As we have these conversations, they are learning to evaluate their hearts to identify wrong motives, sinful desires, and false gods for what they are. And in seeing the reality of their own hearts, they better understand and have compassion for others in their sin.
My prayer for all of us is that we would see the fruit of ongoing gospel conversations with our children. That we would see them cling to Jesus as their Savior and trust in the truth of God’s Word. That they would be salt and light among their peers, and to their future children. For the culture may be rapidly changing, but the absolute truth of God’s Word remains. And because it is certain, there is great hope that even in our post-modern world, his Word will not return void.
About the Author:
Kristen Hatton is the author of The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students, Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World and Get Your Story Straight. In addition to her own blog, she frequently contributes to the Rooted Ministry and Women’s Ministry enCourage blogs, and recently started Redemptive Parenting on Instagram. Kristen lives in Oklahoma with her pastor husband and is the mother of three teenage/young adult children. Learn more by visiting her website at www.kristenhatton.com.