For too many children today, Easter is solely a time of painting pastel-colored eggs, searching for treasures on an Easter egg hunt, and digging through an Easter basket for chocolate bunnies. While these festivities are an enjoyable way for the family to participate in something traditional, they can easily trivialize the Christian meaning of Easter.
One of the most important responsibilities Christian parents have is to teach their children about Jesus Christ. Yet countless children grow up knowing Christ only through what they learn from second-hand sources. The sketchy images these encounters with God imprint on their minds can range anywhere from a drill sergeant to . . . well, the Easter bunny.
In order for children to digest the authentic Easter message, Christ's sacrificial death on a cross, they must have a context in which to put the person of Jesus Christ. When the Gospel is glossed over by lighthearted scenarios that don't mirror real life, children can be led into thinking Christianity amounts only to an untainted notion of perfectionism. The real story–a story about tarnished and degenerate souls who were saved by Christ's unconditional love, redeemed by the miracle of His death, and blessed with a living hope for all eternity–is as relevant to children today as it always has been. The story never changes, but, in a modern context, the way we tell it does.
You can provide that context for your children by simply talking about Jesus on a regular basis, by living the principles of your faith, and by praying with your children.
Talk to your children about Jesus.
"You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).
Children glean an enormous amount of wisdom from listening to their parents talk. References to the Lord and your beliefs should permeate your daily conversations. Give thanks to the Lord not only at meal time but when your prayers are answered. Be specific in thanking Him for His provision and care. Give Him the glory when things work out better than you'd hoped they would, and ask Him for guidance when you face big decisions.
Reading from the Scriptures on a regular basis is a direct and effective way to bring about discussions concerning Christ. Bibles for children and even toddlers are available for parents who wish to begin early. By reading through the Scriptures, you can address personally any questions your children may have about biblical events and monitor their spiritual growth. Taking every opportunity to teach them object lessons about Jesus can provide your children with a framework in which to understand the story of His miraculous life and death.
Live the principles of your faith every day.
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
It is important for Christian parents to walk their talk. When you make claims about the Scriptures and God's righteousness, your children will watch to see how you live out those lessons. The closest earthly equivalent to our Father in heaven is our father at home. Christlike parents are the best witnesses a child can have.
By treating others and your children the way Christ would treat them, your love and respect for Jesus will be an obvious and understood priority. If your children see Christ's love modeled in their home, they will have a relevant perspective from which to view His love on Calvary.
Part of understanding Christ's love for humanity is understanding His authority. By making Jesus the boss of your home, you can show your children how God can love them and demand their utmost at the same time. How many times do your children ask why they must do what you ask them to do? It's easy to answer that question by saying, "Because I said so and I'm your parent." This response may leave children wondering if their parents must obey anyone. But by submitting yourself to the Scriptures and explaining that obedience to your children, you can give them a sense of accountability that will follow them long after they leave home.
Pray with your children.
"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Teaching your children to pray is arguably one of the best ways to teach them about Christ. Many adults today learned to pray by kneeling and reciting scripted prayers. While this can be meaningful, children can develop a more personal relationship with God by praying from their hearts instead of the written page.
Prayer is our direct line to God.
Relationships are deepened when two people open their hearts and tell each other their innermost secrets. Prayer can be enriched by the same candid transparency. Teach your children to share their hearts with the Lord at an early age. Teach them to confide everything in Him. If your child can share everything about himself or herself with God without being ashamed or afraid, you will have gone a long way toward building an essential component in his or her relationship with the Lord–trust. In order to understand and believe the Easter message, we have to trust the One who gave it to us.
The Easter story of Christ's death on a cross can be a complex, mysterious, and even painful message to understand. However, children who learn a gospel in which poignancy is substituted with germinal customs get shortchanged. Parents need not rely on mechanisms to teach biblical truth. By talking to your children about Jesus, living the principles of the Christian faith, and praying with your children, you can prepare them to hear and understand the most profound truth they will ever encounter.
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