Even if my kids are growing up in a home where they hear about God’s word and Edric and I try our best to role-model what it means to follow God, our children aren’t exempted from the spiritual battle for their hearts and minds.
Some weeks ago I sat down with my second son, Edan, because Elijah, my eldest, said, “Mom, Edan has doubts that Jesus is real.”
For those who have followed Edan’s history on this blog, you might remember that Edan was about three years old when he favored the word NO and tended to be withdrawn, disinterested, and habitually “un-smiley.” Edric and I decided it was time for him to hear the gospel. When Edric shared God’s story of salvation through Jesus Christ, Edan readily acknowledged that he needed Jesus and earnestly desired to go to heaven someday. Soon after he made this decision, he changed, too.
From Mr. No he transformed into a sweet, tender-hearted, and kind son who was thoughtful and friendly. This was the Holy Spirit’s work in his life and I marveled at how vastly different he was from his originally negative self.
When I discovered that he struggled with doubts about the personhood of Christ it surprised me but I accepted it as a reasonable response to spiritual matters. Elijah came to that point, too, and over the years I’ve encouraged him to keep digging into Scripture and examining the claims of the Bible. The last thing I want is for my kids to adopt a belief system that they do not understand. I don’t want Christianity to be cultural for them.
Statistics show that in America, most children who grow up in Christian homes (about 89%) abandon their faith by the time they reach college. Shocking, isn’t it? Why do good Christian parents fail to pass on their spiritual heritage?
Given the human-centered philosophies that pervade the present generation, the anti-God influences that saturate the media and the amoral celebrities and popular people whom our children look up to, we have to acknowledge that our kids are growing up in a spiritually-hostile world. Without a solid faith foundation and bible-based convictions, we can’t expect them to navigate through the hostility without becoming causalities.
I sat down with Edan to explain why faith in Jesus is reasonable. It took up a chunk of our homeschool morning, but as we lingered in our discussion as mother and son, I thought to myself, This is why I homeschool my kids…for moments like this one, when I have the privilege of influencing their hearts towards Christ and His plan and purpose for their lives.
Whenever my kids have faith questions, I welcome them. Questions are a good thing! During a recent retreat, a woman who was very skeptical about the Bible, made a joke about herself. She said something like this, “If I were to attend Bible studies, I may get kicked out for asking too many questions.” My response to her was, “It’s okay to have questions. God doesn’t want us to have blind faith in Him. He wants us to seek after Him.”
When I think about my children’s doubts and their desire for evidence as they grow in their understanding of God, who He is, who they are and His plan for their lives, I am glad they are asking their questions now, while they are at home, while Edric and I can lead them to the answers. Furthermore, they challenge us to review the basis of our own belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior of our own lives.
What can we know about Jesus Christ?
Jesus was a real person, a historical figure. There are many secular and non-secular evidences that confirm that Jesus Christ was an actual person. Here are some of the more notable ones:
In his Antiquities, the famous Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, refers to James as “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.”
The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a) confirms Jesus’ crucifixion on the eve of Passover and the accusations against Christ of practicing sorcery and encouraging Jewish apostasy.
The first-century Roman Tacitus, who is considered one of the more accurate historians of the ancient world, mentioned superstitious “Christians” (from Christus, which is Latin for Christ), who suffered under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. (Source: gotquestions.org)
Furthermore, why would Jesus’ supposed disciples die for him if his existence were a lie? Many of these martyrs suffered gruesome deaths!
“There is more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth certainly lived than for most famous figures of the ancient past” Paul L. Maier, The Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History, Western Michigan University
Because Jesus was a real person, we must consider his claims, which were unlike any other made by religious teachers we know of today.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity)
Jesus claimed to be God and He said that He would die for the sins of man and be raised on the third day. It would be very easy to deny his deity if we can prove that He never rose again from the dead. However, no person who has tried to make a case against the resurrection has ever succeeded in doing so. In fact, skeptics who have attempted to disprove the resurrection (brilliant ones like the knighted Sir Lionel Luckhoo and investigative journalist, Lee Strobel) came to the conclusion that evidence supports the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So if Jesus claimed to be God and He rose again from the dead as proof, then His claim to be God was true. He is God.
“The scientific data point powerfully toward the existence of a Creator and that the historical evidence for the resurrection establishes convincingly that Jesus is divine.” Lee Strobel, Finding the Real Jesus: A Guide for Curious Christians and Skeptical Seekers.
Since Jesus is God, we can believe His other claims, such as, “I came that you might have life and might have it more abundantly,” and “I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” and “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” We can stake our lives on His promises. We can live and die for them.
People who come to Jesus experience changed lives. I’m talking about people who are prideful, angry, lost in sin, and enslaved to destructive choices that hurt themselves and those around them. Just the other evening we were having dinner with a couple who nearly gave up on their marriage because the husband had an affair. Their marriage was in shambles but after coming to Jesus and surrendering their lives to Him, they decided to rebuild their marriage. Today they are completely different people from the persons Edric and I first met. There is peace, joy, and the desire to live a holy life. How do these miracles happen? The Bible tells us, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed, behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Their story is similar to countless others who have been set free by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, having witnessed and heard stories about people delivered from demonic oppression in the name of Jesus gives compelling evidence that Jesus is real to the spirit world, too!
When Edan and I ended our conversation, he was in tears and we embraced each other. My children hunger for truth. They need to have an anchor that keeps them grounded when doubts flood their minds. The doubts will come. When they do, will they cling to what they know about God? Will they entertain the lies they are fed by the evil one or will they be able to counter him with truth? As my father used to tell me, “the greatest battlefield is in the mind.” My children are engaged in the same battle. It is my job and Edric’s to prepare and equip them.
Finally, my prayer is that they will all finish well. I can’t believe for them. They must determine for themselves whether Jesus is real, and whether they can entrust their lives to Him. But it starts with Edric and me establishing our own faith convictions and teaching our children what these are. We can’t assume that they will “get it” by osmosis. There has to be intentional effort on our part to model, encourage, teach, and help them answer their faith questions.
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:10 – 17