By Kathy Johnston
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Have you noticed? This is a commandment…not a suggestion.
Does that mean you are going to be called to a foreign mission field somewhere? No doubt some are called to that!
But more often, the most important discipleship opportunities we have are the ones that are right in front of us, in our homes, our neighborhoods, churches and places of employment. Jesus calls us to follow him and teach others to do the same. Disciples, making disciples, making disciples. It’s that simple.
For many of us, this begins with our kids.
The greatest opportunity you have as Christian parents is to present Christ to your kids in a way that shows the value you place on being a follower of Jesus.
Once they are grown and out of the house, the amount of influence you have on them greatly decreases. These growing up years are priceless.
It’s more than just taking them to church, teaching them good moral behavior or memorizing lots of bible verses (Although all of these are all important).
They need to witness you walking out your faith…even when you don’t know they are watching you.
Letting your children witness your failures and see you humbly receive God’s grace in the midst of that failure is a lesson you wouldn’t be able to speak in words. When you admit your need for God’s grace and mercy, it demonstrates to them that you really believe in the gift of God’s forgiveness and grace. There’s an invaluable lesson in letting your kids see you struggle with forgiving someone who may have wounded you, because it teaches them to do the same as they watch you by God’s grace work through that struggle. Obviously you don’t share all of your adult struggles with them, but being honest and real with them regarding struggles that they can understand is such a beautiful way for the gospel to be displayed in a practical way. Teaching them what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus…that is true discipleship.
Your children are your greatest mission field. Do they see Jesus reflected in the way you live, the way you show grace to them and to others?
What would your kids say if someone asked them what you valued the most? Would they say it’s your job, a certain sports team, a good education, outward appearance or entertainment?
What would they say you place the highest priority on?
Do they see you living out what you say you believe? Do they witness you confess and ask for forgiveness when you have been wrong?
Your children are watching you. And they are way smarter than you think…they won’t be fooled.
Your kids notice what you are ranking as most important in your life.
Though it may not be a calculated observance, they notice what you watch on TV. They pay attention to what music you’re listening, how you treat other people when others aren’t watching, and what you spend the most time on. They see the zeal you show when you’re watching sports…and the zeal or lack thereof when you are worshiping God.
Your children have intentionally been assigned to you. God has ordained them to be in your home and it is ultimately your responsibility to shepherd their hearts.
Paul Tripp writes, “You are parenting a worshiper, so it’s important to remember that what rules your child’s heart will control his behavior.”
We are all worshipers of something. What are you teaching your children to worship by the way you live? What do they see that rules your heart?
Discipling the children that God has given us is a sobering and important task.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 28 that God has given him all authority. This is an important aspect of this call to discipleship. It’s by his authority and his power that we are able to disciple others. We don’t have the wisdom, power or ability on our own. Left to ourselves, we will mess it up big time! But he has asked us to partner with him to bring this Good News to all nations. And it begins with the little ones right in front of us.
What an amazing thing that he would ask broken and imperfect people like us to partner with him!
But that’s the beauty of the gospel! He doesn’t see us as broken and imperfect anymore (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Instead, he calls us his own children (John 1:21) and promises to be with us…even to the end of the age.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”