Practices

Living Like Jesus

As a Christian parent, teacher or children’s ministry worker, you probably spend countless hours thinking and dreaming about the spiritual wellbeing of the children in your care. One of the questions that are probably on your mind is, “Am I focusing my efforts on the right thing?”

What are you focusing your efforts on? You can’t hit a target if you don’t aim for it. Do you have one thing in mind that’s above every other thing?

There are many good things we can do for the spiritual well-being of children, but what’s the best thing? Surely the best thing is what God wants for our children. And what does God want for our children? He wants them to live like Jesus.

Everything we do with children should ultimately aim to help them “to think and act like Christ Jesus” Philippians 2:5 (NCV).

Note the phrase “think and act.” Thinking informs actions. If children are going to live like Jesus, they need to think like Jesus. So how do we equip children to think and act like Jesus? By teaching them to do three things:

  1. Strip away anything and everything that’s a hindrance to following Jesus (cf. Hebrews 12:1b). Children must choose between the world and Jesus (cf. 2 Timothy 2:4). This involves a disconnection and reconnection with the world. Children must be guided to “not love the world or anything in the world” (cf. 1 John 2:15) while simultaneously being taught how to be salt and light to the world (cf. Matthew 5:13-16). There can be no worldly accommodation, compromise, exception or entitlement. Children must fully reject the ways of the world and radically embrace a dynamic allegiance to Jesus (cf. Luke 14:33, James 4:4).
  2. Root out and avoid sin (cf. Hebrews 12:1c). There are no shortcuts to living like Jesus. Sin is what we think, say and do that God doesn’t want us to think, say or do. When children sin, it leads them away from the One who is life, robs them of the ability to understand spiritual truth, fosters fear, suppresses prayer, and steals their peace and joy. Children must thus know what sin is, how to confess sin, and how to live righteous lives.
  3. Run with endurance (cf. Hebrews 12:1d). When we invite and encourage children to live like Jesus, ridicule or hostility are inevitable (cf. John 15:18-21). This is a reality. Children will be criticized or persecuted when, as they should, they rebel against everything in the world that distracts or detracts from making Jesus their “one thing” (cf. Philippians 3:13). To deal with ridicule, hostility, or criticism, children must know how to draw on the strength and comfort that God provides (cf. Psalm 46:1-3)

Living like Jesus … imagine what would happen in our homes, schools, churches, and communities if a generation of children started to live like Jesus.

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© Scripture Union, 2020

2 Corinthians 4:5

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