Modern medicine allows us to develop resistance to disease without having to experience the disease. When my Dad was transferred overseas the Air Force doctors gave us shots, inoculations, to build our resistance against a long list of diseases. The inoculations worked. We didn’t get sick with those diseases. It is common for young children to get shots to protect them from childhood illnesses. When is the last time you heard of a child with the mumps or measles? When I was a child those diseases were common. Nowadays schools require certain inoculations, such as measles, mumps and whooping cough before they’ll accept students into classes. Our children need spiritual inoculations too.
The world is sick with sin and our children are at risk to catch that disease. Worldly sin is a raging epidemic we are all exposed to, penetrating even to our own homes. No matter how we try to protect them, our children are exposed to the world and its sin. However, we can inoculate our children with faith and knowledge of God’s word so they’re able to resist the diseases of sin (James 4:7).
One inoculation for physical disease isn’t enough. We need a series of shots, boosters, for each disease to build and maintain our resistance. Spiritual inoculation requires periodic boosting. Paul told the Corinthians they could not avoid sinners in the world, but they could withdraw themselves from the influence of sin (1 Cor. 5:9-11) and evil companions (1 Cor. 15:33). Paul alludes to a kind of protection in Ephesians 6:10-18 where he says we should put on “…the whole armor of God.” He challenges us to avoid sin and target our thinking toward better things (Phil. 4:8). We worship together to edify and strengthen each other (Hebrews 10:24, Eph. 4:11-15), boosting each other’s faith.
Of course if you are sick, the doctor won’t give you the shot, but prescribes something to heal you first. So it is with spiritual inoculations. When our children are taught and baptized into Christ, they are made spiritually well. Once reborn, they need to grow and exercise their spiritual senses (Heb 5:14), and continue their spiritual inoculations. We cannot completely shelter our children from sin or unpleasant things. They will have to experience life on their own and grow strong by exercising their own spiritual senses.
Native Americans had no exposure to the diseases the European explorers brought with them. Without resistance, the natives died in great numbers. So it is with our children and the world. If too sheltered, they can’t get the exercise they need to grow a strong faith. We protect our children by gradually expanding their exposure to life in a controlled way so they gain experience in smaller, manageable steps. All the while we must continue to inoculate children with God’s truth (Eph 6:4). At the same time we try to guide their practical experience, increasing their own faith so they can protect themselves as they grow and strike out on their own as experienced users of the whole armor of God.
Like Father Like Son
Like Mother Like Daughter
“Just wait until you have children, then you will understand.” Most parents try to raise their kids the right way; to love and protect them from danger and to prepare them for life. They also know children have no clue what it is like to be parents. Then it happens, our children become parents and we become grandparents. Now we can sit back and smile as we watch our sons and daughters deal with their own children? Not that we want them to struggle, but now they understand fatherhood or motherhood is hard work. Perhaps a little poetic justice for all those parents who heard, “I am never going to treat my kids they way you treat me.”
Children sometimes question their parents’ intelligence, wisdom, and motives when they don’t get what they want. They may even believe they have better answers and will never do to their children what their parents do to them. But then they come face-to-face with the tough questions and decisions of parenthood, and they realize the easy answers are gone. So maybe dad and mom were not so dumb and out of touch after all.
One of the scariest thoughts for children is that they may grow up to become like their parents. Fox News recently reported a poll taken by Daily Mail that said children become their parents at age thirty-two. I do not know about a specific age, but one reason given is that by thirty-two most people have children. Now their priorities and concerns change, and they must deal with the real issues of raising their kids. The poll revealed that now their parents’ old arguments make sense; like, “I don’t care if everyone else is doing it, you are not everyone else.” Remember how you hated it when your parents said, “Because I said so, that’s why”.
The point is, you will influence your children, for good or for evil. So even though your children may not like your parenting style at the time, there is a good chance they will grow up to mimic much of what you do and say. What you teach them about morality they will probably teach their children. Your spiritual faith will likely influence theirs when they grow up. Their children will probably be raise like you raised them. Do you want your children to grow up to be like you? Remember the words of Solomon, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6)