“Mommy, why are there two Gods? Jesus and also the God up in heaven?”
“What do you mean, that the men who killed Jesus were wrong? You mean grown-ups do wrong thing too?”
“What does it mean that Jesus died for our sins? Why did He have to die for them?”
So this week we’ve been having conversations about the triune nature of God, the evil inherent in all human hearts (adults as much as kids!), and the atonement for sins. Not quite in those words… but still, pretty heavy stuff for a four-year old.
It’s gotten me reflecting on one of our chief jobs as Christ-following mothers of preschoolers: Mom, the Theologian. It’s a pretty important job, too. What a privilege to shape the beliefs and thoughts of a small person trying to figure out, for the first time, how the world and universe work. And how God Himself works. We are literally helping to create a person’s worldview from the ground up; we’re laying the foundations for faith in God. Theology is basically defined as “the study of God” – and it begins in our kids as soon as their curious minds start wondering about their world. My four-year old can accurately be described as a young theologian. Of couse he doesn’t get it all yet; I wouldn’t expect him to. But bit by bit over time, he pieces the content and ideas together. It reaches him.
What does this mean for us moms that we have miniature theologians on our hands? It means our own views about and knowledge of God matter a great deal. And it means we need to know our Bibles. We must, as Paul directs, “be ready to given an answer” to any such questions when they come – must welcome them and savor the conversations. Of course we don’t have all the answers – we never will! That’s not the point. The point is that this arena is not one to brush under the rug with annoyance, or beg off with promises to talk about it later. Later could well be too late. National surveys of 13-year olds conducted by George Barna and discussed in Revolutionary Parenting show that overwhelmingly, “they are no longer open to learning or actively studying the scriptures” by that age. His research also shows that less than twenty percent, “less than one out of every five parents of young children, believe they are doing a good job of training their children morally and spiritually…Parents ranked their efforts related to morality and spirituality at the bottom of the list (of parenting performance of 15 indicators).”
We cannot and should not be such parents. We can’t wait, like many Americans are, till our kids are 13 and the window of openness to learning about God and his Word is closed. God is faithful to equip us with all we ned to serve him in our calling as we educate our mini-theologians in God and His ways. He will help us train our children as we live our quiet and routine lives with them. He will give us the words we need as we keep his commandments and ways “upon (our) hearts; impress them on (our) children; talk about them when (we) sit at home and when (we) walk alng the road, when (we) lie down and when (we) get up.” (Deut 6:6-8)