There is a man in our church that grew up on a farm. He drove a tractor at age eight. Driving down the road with him is like listening to a farm encyclopedia. Every piece of farm machinery we pass, he talks all about it. There is no doubt that this man knew more about farm equipment at age six than I do in my sixties.
Another man in our church can tell you about every movie ever made. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. When he was a kid, his family’s entertainment centered around movies, they would rent them and go to the theater; that was his family’s thing – movies. Now in his forties, he has just shy of two thousand movies on shelves in his home.
My childhood revolved around baseball. Dad and I would play catch; when alone, I would spend hours with a bat and ball, hitting the sphere all over the yard. My brother-in-law gave me the book “Big Moments In The Big Time,” when I was seven years old. Each story was organized like a newspaper article – stories of records and strange moments on the professional diamond. It was over two hundred pages, and I memorized the thing. Although my life no longer revolves around the game, sometimes I wonder what I know the most about – the Bible or baseball.
You may think, “Preacher, what are you getting at?” My thought is this: our adult interests are often developed in childhood, often helped by one or both of our parents.
I was walking in a parade once. Directly behind my group was a church float with a man on a cross. I heard a child in the front row, probably 8-10 years old, ask her mother, “Why is that man up there?”
Mom replied, “That’s church stuff. You don’t need to worry about that.”
I have often wondered about that little girl over the years. She would be around twenty years of age now. Does she ever think of the man on the cross? Is Jesus part of her life, or is He someone she does not need to think about? Will she teach her children about God? Will they be taught anything about Jesus?
God tells us to saturate our children with the Word of God. Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Sitting, walking, lying down, and rising up, sounds like pretty much all the time – twenty-four/seven as we say today.
While my dad was playing catch with me in the yard or taking me to an Indians game, I doubt he ever thought, “Long after I am dead and gone, Tim is going to love baseball.”
The point I am trying to make with that last paragraph is that we often influence children without thinking about it.
Parents who never take their kids to church have told me they are not taking them because “I want them to make their own decisions about God and religion.”
In the end, this is proper. Even the Bible tells us, “Whosoever will may come.” However, allowing the next generation to make an uninformed decision about their eternity is foolhardy.
Parents do not do this about any other important decision. Example – When a child starts venturing off on their own, going places without mom or dad, we warn them of the dangers out there.
“If drugs come out at this party, call us we’ll come get you.”
“Stay away from the booze.”
“Be watchful of the boys; they only want one thing.”
We also give them advice on things we want them to do.
“If you want to attend college, you’ll need good grades in high school.”
When it comes to nearly every aspect of life, parents are more than willing to offer their opinion. That’s why teens roll their eyes so much. Yet on life’s most important decision – what to do with God – many parents are willing to say nothing to influence the child’s decision.
We have school-aged children that do not recognize a man on a cross as a representation of Jesus Christ; this was a decade ago. How many more today?
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6. This verse is valid for love of the movies, baseball, and farm equipment; but it is especially true about God.