As we were driving to church on a recent Sunday morning my discerning 4-year-old son asked a perceptive question. “Do they worship cows?”
We were a just a few houses down the road and saw our neighbors getting into their car. It appeared that they too were going to church. Bo wanted to know if they were going to worship cows.
I suppose a bit of context is helpful. Bo is learning about history and religion in his homeschool. My wife has been teaching him about some of the early civilizations and various religious practices. In her regular instruction she would teach him about these practices and how they intersect with what God has revealed in the Bible.
This brings a parenting burden to the forefront. Our children will latch onto ideas but we must shape them with both knowledge and understanding.
Take for example how we apply the importance and exclusivity of the Christian gospel. We absolutely want our children to understand that the gospel is of first importance (1 Cor. 15:3), that it is the exclusive message by which anyone can come to truly know God (Jn. 14:6) and that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). We want them to know, love, and defend this truth.
At the same time—and not in contrast with this—we have a world around us that largely does not worship Christ. We mustn’t allow our children to become self-righteous little Pharisees who look upon the world with prideful disgust rather than a prayerful burden. They have to learn, as they grow, that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. It is God who grants life and faith. They have to come to see but also love the lost.
Further, they have to become discerning to see that even within those churches classified as Christian there are many who’ve abandoned biblical authority and the biblical gospel. They exist outside the realm of historic, orthodox Christianity. A task as parents is to help these young ones to grow up to demonstrate charitable relationships that maintain biblical fidelity and pursue biblical orthodoxy. This will take work.
As a parent I hear my son ask, “Do they worship cows” and I smile. He is moving down the path of knowledge and seeking to gain discernment. My job along with my wife is to help him to grow in his knowledge and understanding so that he glorifies God with his life. We want to see him (and all of our children) become ardent ambassadors for Christ. But this is a tricky business that takes intentionality, persistence, and sacrifice.
By the way, I was so encouraged to tell him that no they don’t worship cows. Our friends were going to a church that preaches the gospel. It was good to remind him that there are other good churches in Omaha. It was a good reminder to me as I drove to church myself!