Have you ever had to miss the end of an awesome movie? It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You’re into the plot, invested in the characters and can’t wait to see what happens next. Then something unexpected interrupts you and pulls you out of the story, leaving everything unresolved.
No one wants to miss the end of a great story.
Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest challenges in the church today. Too many kids are only experiencing half of the story. In our eagerness to introduce our children to a relationship with God, we teach them all about God’s love story. And that’s a good thing. God’s story, however, isn’t just a love story. It’s an adventure story too.
God’s on an adventure, a mission to restore this broken planet and redeem all that He made. He’s bringing heaven to earth, and when we become a part of His family, we are invited, expected even, to join the family business.
Our kids desperately need to understand that the Bible is a story of relationship AND responsibility. It’s not an either/or. It’s a cause and effect. Because of our relationship with God, we get to live out the responsibility of building God’s kingdom.
There’s a classic photograph from American history that drives this point home for me. It’s picture taken in 1963 of President Kennedy working at his desk while his son plays at his feet. From the top up, it’s a perfectly ordinary presidential photograph, JFK hard at work in the Oval Office, but the bottom half of the photo tells another story. Two-year-old, John, Jr, is peeking out of a secret door in his father’s desk. Because he is the son of the American President, he gets to play at the feet of the most powerful man in the world.
Of course, the child has no idea how amazing this is. He couldn’t even begin to comprehend the important work happening right above his head. To him, he’s just hanging out with Dad.
In the same way, because of our relationship with God, we get to play at our Father’s feet. But because of this intimacy, it’s easy to forget that God’s not just our Dad in heaven. He also happens to be the King of all creation, and He has a big job to do. However, here’s where it gets really cool. Our Dad in heaven doesn’t just invite us to draw near. He actually invites us to the desk. As incredible as it sounds, the King of all Kings includes us in His work.
Jesus said to the disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15 NIV). He then tells them to go bear fruit that will last. Jesus invited the disciples to the desk. He included them in His work and later even gave them a great commission to go into all the world to make disciples.
This same invitation is still open to our kids today, but it’s up to us as their parents to help them embrace not just the love of God but the mission of God. It looks like this:
Kids need to understand that their Dad in heaven is also the King, that as His kids, they have authority to represent Him in the world and power from heaven to bring light to the dark places, hope to the hopeless and help to the needy.
If we don’t help our kids step into the adventure side of the story, we have a good chance of raising believers who may experience the love of God, but have no idea how to give it away. As a result, kids may struggle with:
- self-centered faith
- apathy toward the lost
- no motivation to serve
So, how do we prevent this? It starts with us.
In his book How to Raise Selfless Kids in a Selfish World, Dave Stone writes, “If our kids are growing up selfish and self-centered, it’s because they are merely the byproduct of us-of you and me. They observe our priorities and adopt our values.”
When we take our faith, and put it into action, our kids will follow suit. We need to look for opportunities to serve and love and give and bring our kids along for the ride. Make them a part of it. Let them do something. Ask them for ideas of who and how you can serve. Don’t just let them play at the feet of the King, but invite to the desk. When we do this, our kids’ lives will be filled meaning and purpose. They will be swept up not just into God’s great love story, but a kingdom adventure that will change the world.
If you’d like help talking about God’s adventure as a family, check out God’s Big Adventure, a book of family devotionals that’s all about the great love story and adventure story of God. In God’s Big Adventure, we explore what it means to be loved by the Father, receive a new identity and obey God as the overflow of His love.