This is an excerpt from my book The Image of a Father. You may read Part One here and Part Two here.
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).
When an arrow strikes its target, what will be its lasting impression? If it bears a symbol, an etching that reveals its sender, the people who discover it and realize its effect will honor the warrior, either with respect or fear.
As we send our children out, we hope their effect on the world will bring honor to the one who empowered them. Although some may wish to give credit to their parents, we hope to shift the glory to God, the source of all that is good. How can we put that etching on our children so that all will know that Jesus is the true warrior who sent them out?
Those we affect can easily learn that God is our source. We tell them. Yet, this is not as simple as it sounds. Jesus did not always reveal his true identity in a straightforward manner; he chose to be clear with some and vague with others. As we teach our children to be like Christ when they leave our homes, we should remind them to reveal themselves as Christians both in stealth and in clarity, depending on their targets.
Their character will always mark them as Christians. Their unusual integrity in all matters will be strikingly new and odd to most. Those who know the mark of Christ will immediately recognize our children as arrows from Jesus, and God will be glorified. With these, usually fellow Christians, their hearts will be free to share the greatness of God.
A second group will not understand our children’s character, and with these they should be careful. Some will be enemies of the gospel, hardened and warring against it, and our children should not “cast pearls before swine.” Others will be ignorant, in need of the word of God like a drought-stricken field needs rain. Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, revealing their meaning to those who were thirsty, those who came to him for a deeper understanding of the water of life. As our children learn to speak in ways that intrigue, they will put out a fishing line for the needy. If a person is curious and takes the bait, he may ask our children about their behavior. They should readily respond that Christ is their source of goodness, giving this soul what he needs to respond in faith.
The mark on the arrow is a deep etching, the character of Christ himself, and those who don’t know that strange mark may ask its meaning. Will your child be ready to give an answer?
I exercise my children in dialogue sessions, asking difficult questions and challenging their answers. We analyze sermons, political speeches, and newspaper articles, bantering about their points and logic. I allow the discussion to flow freely for a while, but I always steer it back toward my goal, preparing my children to defend the word of God against the wisdom of the world. My hope is that they will be able to use their finely sharpened minds to answer any questions. When confession and character meet, they will prove the inborn mark of God, and the impact of the arrow will never be forgotten.
Categories: Thoughts from the Heart
As i was reading this, it made me realize more and more how being raised in a non Christian home affected me. I first came to Christ when I was 8 years old, and from that point I had to guide my own Christian development and walk with Christ. This combined with me being the type of person that memorizes stories and meaning, but not them line by line, I became someone who would always follow the meaning of scripture, and didn’t just focus on specific versus. It made it very difficult to aim myself one way, when the people raising me we were aiming me another. I still am having to live with the results of that.
I have a question, Mr. Davis. I sit next to a special needs girl on the bus. She doesn’t speak and I communicate by writing to her on my notebook. I’ve told her twice about Jesus, except I don’t know if she can understand me. As of now, her main vocab words are ‘cool,’ ‘yes’, yeah,’ ‘yay,’ and ‘I don’t no.’ Should I keep trying to communicate that Jesus died for her or should I let it go?
Definitely keep trying. Sometimes it’s amazing what people can understand even though we get no feedback that they do. Use Scripture, maybe a song, and above all. show love. It is the greatest communicator.
Thank you so much for that. I’ll do that!