"And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us."--2 Cor.5:19b-20a A few months ago, our youngest son Jonathan was going through a time when he was a little afraid of monsters. Every night we would pray with him and tuck him into bed. We have been trying to plant in his mind that even though we might not be there in the middle of the night, God was always there. He piped up with this comment: "Jesus is with me just like Daddy is with me." (Pretty smart for a three year old, eh?) His remark struck home with me. He is connecting his understanding about Jesus with how we respond and react to Him. Convicting. And a little scary too, for I can misrepresent Him as well.
Children, especially when they are young, have a hard time grasping the abstract and the unseen. While they seem to understand (and often better than an adult does) that there is a God and that Jesus is a real person, I believe that their understanding is strengthened when we help "put some skin on." No, Jesus doesn't need us to do this, nor does it all depend on us. It is not meant to be a burden we bear, but a privilege we have.
Of course, this presupposes that we have some understanding of the nature of God. It is hard to represent someone that we know little about. As I have shared with moms in classes, we cannot give away what we do not have. It concerns me that many of us have gotten into the trap of being so busy that we neglect our own relationship with God. I'm not talking about merely attending Bible studies and knowing all the right answers or being busy in ministry. Don't get me wrong. Those things are important. I'm talking about really spending time with Him. Sadly, not only are we the losers, but our children will miss out as well.
How, you ask? I best represent Him when I have been in His presence, absorbing His love for me when I am unlovable, experiencing His patience when I am grumpy, or enjoying His companionship when I feel lonely. As I spend time with Him, He rubs off on me. Little by little, my heart is changed to better reflect His. And when I become more like Him, I can be a better ambassador for my Lord because I know His heart. My prayer is that my children will receive the fruit of my relationship with Him and come to know Him through me as I encourage, discipline, train, love and care for them.
This doesn't just end when my kids start school. My teenager needs me to represent Him to her just as much as my little one does, just in different ways. In fact, I think these years are even more crucial as our teens begin to discern the differences between what we profess and how we act, and then call us on it. I have found that more than ever, I have to challenge myself to live out what I believe about God with more integrity. As they begin to venture out into developing a relationship with God on their own, how I represent Him can determine whether they choose to walk with Him later on in their lives or not. And that is a sobering thought.
This morning I was reading in 2 Cor. 2 about being either the fragrance of Christ or the aroma of death (v. 15). How I long to be a fragrance! As a parent, I pray that my children will come to know and love Jesus all the more because they see Him in me. In our world today, they need us to be representatives of Christ in a world that has left Him out of so much. Let's use today to plant the truth of God into our children so they can be representatives for Him in their generation. Will you join me?