As a parent, my desire is to have my kids grow to love Jesus with all their hearts.
That’s a good desire. At least I think so.
There is just one little problem with that: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and they have me as their dad.
That may be my heart’s desire, but I am not exactly the perfect role model for that.
The truth is, if I want my kids to love Jesus with all their hearts, I need to show them what that looks like to the best of my ability.
Of course we know this. After all, this is the first chapter in the parenting handbook we get as soon as our little buns come out of the ovens.
But let’s be honest about this. It’s hard. Very hard.
Because we are human and we sin. And our sin runs deep.
And that’s where loving Jesus comes in.
Because He made a way for us to love Him despite our sin.
By dying on the cross, Jesus did what we couldn’t do: He opened the relationship between us.
In other words, He loved us before we loved Him (I John 4:19).
And how did He demonstrate His love for us?
He died for us (Rom 5:8).
Now, this all seems to be pretty logical, but I think it gets even deeper for us.
Not only did Jesus die for us and make a way for the relationship to happen, He also did what every Christian parent is supposed to do: He modeled this relationship for us.
“How?” you might ask.
He did it in 3 ways.
1. He loved God when everyone was around.
During His public ministry, Jesus was constantly surrounded by people.
- At the lake: people.
- On the mountainside: people.
- In the towns: people.
There were people everywhere.
And how did He respond?
By always showing the love of God and pointing those people to Him.
So what about us? Who are we when we are surrounded by people? Do others know Who we love?
The truth is that our kids are watching us in public. Who do they see when we are at the mall, a restaurant, or church?
2. He loved God when only a few were around.
Jesus didn’t do His ministry alone. He had 12 disciples, whom He chose, who followed Him almost everywhere He went.
And what did they see? The same Jesus the public saw, only a deeper side to Him.
Jesus was the same with the guys as He was with the public. He was consistent.
Sure, most of us don’t have an entourage of 12 people going where we go when we go.
But maybe we have 1, or 2, 4.
Our kids are the few that are around us a lot of the time.
Do they see the same person they see in public?
The truth is that our kids will see a side of us that few others will see. Make sure you are consistent.
3. He loved God when no one was around.
This is probably the most important one.
The Gospel writers tell of many times where Jesus was alone.
And what did He do in those times?
He prayed. (Luke 5:16)
The single biggest way to build a love for Jesus is to love Him when no one is around.
So what about us?
- Who are we when no one is around?
- When we are by ourselves and no one is watching?
This is not to put guilt on anyone. Jesus is full of forgiveness.
But, are we even trying? If we want to love Jesus in public, we need to love Him in private first.
Our kids are watching us, and they want to know if we love Jesus.
- Who are we at church when everyone is watching?
- Who are we at home when only a few are watching?
The interesting part is that both of those truly hinge on the last one:
- Who are we when only Jesus is watching?
Loving Jesus isn’t always easy.
If it was easy to do, He wouldn’t have come to die on a cross to make a way for us to do it.
But loving Jesus ourselves is the best way to model for our kids what it looks like to have a relationship with Him.If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I want to do my best to make sure my tree is rooted in Him.
Then the fruit will be good, too.
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