getting the wrong message

I’ve struggled with being very legalistic, and I think I have taken a lot of comfort in being a pretty heavy-handed moralist. We all live our own lives and we all sin against God, no matter what our personal moral standards are. In the end, we’re all sinners and we all need God’s grace. I’m no better than anyone else I’ve looked down on for their infringement on my own morality. I’m not saying God doesn’t have standards that we should try to live by, but I know I’ve had a tendency to get caught up in what I believe to be acceptable to God.

I guess maybe a part of this is due to our sort of societal “Christian” moralism. I’m not really sure how we should avoid this, but we tend to bring up our kids linking good behavior to loving Jesus. While this isn’t necessarily a false connection, I’m not sure it’s a good one to be making, because it misses the point of the gospel. Kids grow up with this idea that they better be good or Jesus won’t give them any presents at Christmas or something. Jesus becomes at best a smiley “buddy Christ” figure who wants you to be nice but doesn’t mind if you sin once in a while, he’ll forgive you for having fun. At worst he’s the oppressive cosmic overlord who will cook you forever in hell if you mess up, so you better behave. How would you change how we teach kids about Jesus? How do we get the transformational message of the gospel across to children?

    • Chris Thomson
    • June 28th, 2012


    Same great thoughts to ponder. My wife and I have a very simple axiom with our kids “Preach the Gospel…if necessary use words.” We have subscribed to the idea that our first job as parents is to model grace, forgiveness, compassion and justice for the oppressed. We read the Bible with them, but very rarely force any type of lesson about Jesus. We have found that the best moments for teaching the Gospel come when they ask for it because we have already modeled it. We are not perfect and still make many mistakes, but I think this approach is far better than a heavy handed or formulaic approach that many Christian parents ascribe to.

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