This could definitely become a series but I don’t plan things out so well so for today, I want to talk about raising our children to be in the world but not of it and how when challenges come, it’s an opportunity for growth in their faith and in ours as their parents.
Our daughter used to be one of the most loved girls in school. I promise, I do not say this to brag on her or myself but she was known for being kind and trying to keep people from fighting on the play ground, which frustrated some, but in general, she was loved by most. She felt and gave love freely but also learned to have to back away from always wanting to put out fires or from people who tried to control her and wanted to keep tabs on her every move, especially when it came to making other friends.
Although in all of those years, there were lessons to be learned and she nor I in how I coached her did it perfectly, this year is by far the hardest and is definitely bringing on the most growth.
When friends laugh at the Christian music she listens to, or the fact that she doesn’t have a phone and social media and they say things like, “I would literally die if I didn’t have a phone, I don’t know how you do it” after 2 months of owning one, she has for sure been pushed aside like you would an old, favorite toy you once loved.
My momma’s heart has ached and gotten angry at the sometimes daily pain she has endured. Pouring out wisdom to encourage her to continue to be kind, even when they are not, or to stop pursuing the very people who hurt her (as she navigates wondering how in the world this has all happened after years of friendship). Some days I have said, “You need to call them out, stand up for yourself and make sure they know you aren’t going to stand by and let them treat you like that.” And I realize it’s just hard to coach being kind but not being a walked all over, and then of course, looking at how Jesus dealt with crowds of many people completely rejecting His message.
Today, we were lead to John 15. And as I have quoted verse 18 many times to my children over the years “If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me first.” That’s my way of telling them, “following Jesus isn’t ever popular by the world’s standard and it makes people uncomfortable but when they show hate towards you by their words or actions, it’s really Christ in you they cannot stand. He in you, either draws people nearer to you, or they want to push you away.” And it’s so true. I also let them know this never goes away…adults experience these same kind of interactions and you eventually get used to it. Or if you find yourself getting hurt, run to scripture where over and over we are reminded that we will be persecuted, we will be called out because our beliefs or scripture doesn’t sit well with theirs….the world will not understand it and you will find peace knowing it’s expected but that Christ has overcome the world at the Cross and all will be made right someday.
Sadly, we often start with the second portion of John 15:18-27. Because that’s where they are, every day at school when the things they hear kids say that is inappropriate or the things they do to make sure they know they are not accepted in the popular groups, this is the part of the passage they relate to:
THE WORLD’S HATRED:
18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belong to it, but you are no longer part of the wold. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is no greater than the master.’ since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. 22They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. 24If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures’ They hated me without cause.’
26″But I will send you the Advocate- the Spirit of Truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. 27And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.
These are words of Jesus specifically to His appointed twelve disciples during his ministry on earth but we can receive these words today as followers of Jesus as well. And the wisdom Jesus pours out to them is very real for today. And the sooner we can understand this message as Christ followers, the less we tend to care what the masses say, what the world says to do or not to do because they or it (the world) is not our leader, we are not meant to follow it.
It’s important, then, that we as parents are reading scripture for ourselves but also to our children so we can be sure to pour into them the wisdom God pours to us through scriptures and then at the same time, teach them to allow the God’s truth through scriptures, speak to them as they grow and mature in their faith.
Raising responsible, Christ followers…it happens in the everyday, sometimes mundane moments. We can take these moments and teach our children scripture- that’s usually the times they take it in the most! During an actual life situation, when we run back to scripture together or it’s on our tongues, we teach them in the moment, on what Christ says and see what He would have us do.
So although these life moments run us to the second half of John 15, let’s then encourage them with the first half to keep going and be encouraged!
JESUS, THE TRUE VINE:
1’I am the true grapevine, and my Father is in the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5″Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
6Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7But if you remain in me and omg words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want and it will be granted! 8When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
9″I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.
10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12This is my commandment; Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.
So, we encourage them (because Jesus encourages us) to ‘Remain in Jesus. He is actively working in your life and pruning you to become more like Him and to do the good work He has for you to do, to share the message of Jesus. To remain in Him so the fruit can be produced and the world can see it.’ To remind them that we are His true disciples when much fruit is produced and it pleases the Father!
I also love to encourage them in the gifts God has given them and especially during times like these, the way that God sees them. I take any positive truth and pour it out on them like frosting on a cinnamon roll. Like, my momma’s heart just needs them to know deep in their soul, the real truth of who they are and Whose they are. And of course, how much I love them and how my life is a million times better with them in it.
And of course, that in the seasons of growing in our faith, no matter how painful, He uses these seasons and brings good- we are more prepared for the work He has for us to do in the gifts He has given us. We will be better prepared for it.
My kids, and I as their momma, we are not perfect. We haven’t done this all perfectly but we do go to scripture for wisdom and try to walk it out as best we can.
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