Making Sense of Children - C
God has placed faith within every human soul; this is a divinely appointed inner-sense. Man has pursued endless adventures to encounter this faith or conducted constant sin to quash it. Yet God's imprint of eternity remains in all souls. In the new-born, upon the infant there is a safety canopy over this implant - it is called innocence.
This series has already considered the real honor our Lord has for children and how He has equipped adults to be the curators of faith in children.
King Solomon in Psalm 127:3 is most explicit - the fruit of the womb is a reward. This truth is largely lost to a world where the womb has become a tomb and children are the object of abuse and not affection. The notion of assisting children with faith is largely unheard of.
So what does it mean to be a faith preserver for children?
Preservation of a Child's faith
The faith component of a child is nurtured and promoted when it is first protected and then watered.
Christian's rarely understand that there is conflict between knowledge and faith. Knowledge has been falsely equated with faith. Knowledge can both water or hinder faith - e.g. faith says I can walk on water, knowledge says I can’t. Knowledge says Jesus lived 2000 years ago and died for me; faith says this is true.
To simply deposit Christian knowledge does not equate to building faith.
To simply deposit Christian knowledge does not equate to building faith. In fact knowledge can highly impede faith as knowledge gives power and then pride. Knowledge can in fact squash faith. Remember in Genesis 2:15-17 God commanded Adam NOT to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, yet this is what all education is - eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Christian upbringing (the faith development of children) is both the diligently time-tabled deposits of Biblical knowledge around a tea table or through a bedtime ritual and also the anecdotal hosing of faith through conversations and especially how their mum and dad are seen react in all types of circumstances.
Faith development in children literally becomes the arrest of spiritual decline - remember they have the knowledge of God already implanted within them. It is as they age and are confronted with the lies, the education, the pain and the pleasures of this world that faith is eroded or lost. The knowledge component of faith to be deposited must therefore be about formation of the child and not simply information to the child. All families have a unique and God-given platform of faith formation in the eternally precious lives that God has entrusted to them.
All children also need a healthy view of themselves to gain a healthy view of God as they will always carry God's image. As a child appreciates themselves correctly before God their faith is promoted. Each child needs to know and receive:
- attention and
When a child sees God as an ogre or malevolent their faith is eroded.
Each child is made fearfully and wonderfully (1) by God so they can receive Him well. When there are deficits to the four 'a's above they can believe ill of themselves and then fail to apprehend how God made them and His good intentions for them. A failure to believe well about self may also lead a child to believe ill of God. This then is too faith erosion.
Children have a sense of adventure without having a sense of reason.
Children have a sense of adventure without having a sense of reason. Could this sense of adventure also be their faith? A sense of reason will always temper the sense of adventure – it is protective. But there comes a line when the sense of reason will transgress the sense of faith. Reason (which is a fruit from the Tree of Knowledge) will always attempt to usurp the acts of faith (which is the fruit form the Tree of Life). Reason will contradict, deny, and then eliminate faith - yet all are invited to live by faith and not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Ponder the Apostle Peter for a moment (Matthew 14:22-36) as he stepped out of the storm tossed boat to be the second man ever to walk on water - his was the step of faith and adventure NOT the step of reason.
In the home, the sunday school, the classroom and even the playground the sense of reason competes with the sense of faith. It is simple for a six year old to believe the Red Sea parted but far more difficult for a sixteen year old. The sixteen year old holds a far greater body of knowledge that opposes and reinforces the Red Sea was not parted at all. The older a child the greater is the loss of a sense of the supernatural. The faith adventures of children can be polluted by a reason which will finally fail them.
In a real sense spiritual development is not taught, it is only released (or not squashed and hindered).
Faith preservation is about the healthy increase of the human spirit in a child and the release of their implanted faith component. It is then that a child's authentic God created identity will bloom. Remember that before God forms each of us the true child has already been designed (Jeremiah 1:4-5).
Raising children must be about watering, liberating and supporting the individual as God made them. The home, the tea-table, the sunday school, the classroom and the playground then become the forum for nurturing and releasing faith.
(1) This is written in Ps 139:14 and really does explain the extravagant diligence that God exercised in the creation of each person. He was so careful that each should be made perfectly well. When this doesn't happen it is not because God has made a mistake, but because other interventions have occurred especially from satan to mar God's creation. Remember satan is the life thief, stealing away what good God has for His creation. (John 10:10a)