Instruction is a matter of life and death

Posted on February 28, 2013 · Posted in Culture, Parenting, Worldview

Suppose for a moment that you lived as many Christians do on this planet. Suppose you lived in an area that was in a constant state of warfare. This is would be the warfare of the guerrillas, or of the tribal dispute, or of ethnic hatred. In each of these types of warfare, Christians are often acceptable targets. In this war-torn area you would still have your children.  For families living in one of these media-neglected war zones, going outside to play is an act of reckless endangerment.

 

You realize that the instructions you must give your children are instructions of life and death. If your kids fail to follow your directions to the letter they may pay the price with their life. Something that is inviting to pick up from the ground may be a death trap. Failing to follow the path you give them to bring fresh water to your home may result in capture or death or worse.

 

As a Christian what sort of technique would you use to instruct your children? Would you cajole or settle for partial obedience? Would you yell and scream and tell them they better obey you or else?

 

Or you could begin each day with a tearful prayer for God to keep your children safe. You could go over in detail the tasks you have for them to do that day. You would take whatever time is needed to make sure your words are followed. You would prepare your children as much as possible for the dangers they would face. You would be gracious and engaged as you work with them. You would remind them that you have no guarantee you would all be together for dinner that night. You would remind them of the gracious rule of God even in the midst of conflict. You would tenderly embrace each child not knowing whether it would be your last. You would speak constantly of the blessing of knowing and trusting Christ as your savior and encourage your children to do the same. For your children your instructions are literally life and death. 

 

What if you lived in a war zone?  What difference would it make?

 

The truth is you do live in a war zone. The enemy, the master of deceit,  has just disguised your environment so that you think you are safe and not at war. 

 

You do live in a war zone. What difference will it make in the way you instruct your children?

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.