There is a crack in a wall at our house which appears every year or so. Sandi and I have fixed the crack a few times, knowing that the repair is only temporary. Unless Christ chooses to return sometime soon, we will eventually have to deal with the real issue – that the problem is not the wall itself, but in the foundation of the floor. All good builders know that unless a structure is built on a strong foundation, some of the walls will eventually crack. Jesus used this analogy in Matthew chapter 7. He ended “The Sermon on the Mount” by identifying someone who practices His teachings as a wise man who builds his life on a rock, versus a foolish man who ignores His teachings and thereby builds his life on a foundation of sand.
I was reminded of this principal recently as I watched a popular movie. The story centered around a single young man whose sister died and then, due to a series of other circumstances, he found himself the guardian of a 7-year-old girl. The lead character was a heroic figure – strong, good looking, motivated by good intentions – but his niece was very smart and prone to asking difficult questions. In one scene, as they were reflecting on her mother’s death, the girl asked, “Is God real?” and then “Is there heaven?” Her uncle answered, “I don’t know. I like to think there is.” The story moved on as events continued to unfold.
Most people who saw the movie probably had little problem with the answer our hero gave. His response was honest and non-judgmental. The niece was left free to believe whatever she wanted to believe. However, I found that the scene left me very sad. Here were two good-hearted people, both struggling with the death of a loved one. The young girl was reaching out for answers to two of life’s most profound questions, but her uncle had nothing to contribute. On a foundational level, his response was the equivalent of throwing a child into the deep end of a swimming pool and saying, “Teach yourself to swim” or tossing a child the keys to a car and saying, “Good luck on the road.”
Parents and other family members have a responsibility to teach the children under our responsibility the truths that build a strong foundation for life. First, that means that those of us who are adults need to have a firm understanding of the truths given to us in the Bible. The revelation which God has given us in Christ, recorded in His Word and communicated through His Spirit answers all of life’s most fundamental questions. Then, we need to learn how to communicate these truths to children at age-appropriate levels.
Our church also has a responsibility to serve as a spiritual extension of the family. We want to support parents in laying a heritage of faith in the home. This means teaching parents, as well as youth and children, how to apply the truths of scripture in our daily lives. It is the only way we can “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Soli Deo Gloria