Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
I was raised in a fundamentalist environment which was more religious than spiritual. Not taught to have a personal relationship with God, I was taught that faith was about following a set of rules. Although this is a great departure from my faith today, there is something to be said about the power of the word of God to work in a child even in an environment of strict and impersonal religion. I was rebellious as a teenager and overly free as a young adult, but basic biblical tenets would run through my mind regularly and cause me to question how I lived. Even as the worldliest man in the world, something still told me I should honor my parents and love my neighbor. Something kept me mindful of God over the years, and something told me to pray.
My understanding of Jesus Christ today is much different than what I was taught as a child. Back then He was an idea; today He is a person. Even so, I was raised to respect and consider the scriptures because they are truth. I remember being a young adult and always traveling with a Bible in my bag although I was not sure why I even did that. I never really read the Bible, and I could not quote any scripture, and I never would have set foot inside a church, but there was some kind of comfort there. I believe what was happening inside of me was God drawing me to where I could understand him. His word was the place for me to search. I may not have been taught about the fundamentals of spiritual rebirth and salvation, but I was taught that the word of God is truth. That has never departed from me even when I intentionally tried to live in an ungodly way. We only need teach children God’s truth and trust that it will remain with them even when they appear to stray.
Scripture tells us that the word of God does not return void. It is living and working. It is not a group of inanimate words that simply stay on a page. God’s Holy Spirit brings scripture to life in a way that moves us and changes us. It is no mystery why children are so trusting and impressionable. They are fertile ground for instruction on the God who made them and loves them. They are ready to soak up everything we do and say around them. As adults, we grow hardened and skeptical from living in this world. As children, we are bright-eyed enough to hope for the impossible and believe in the improbable. After all, it is with the faith of a child that we are supposed to believe for all things. Father, remind us to teach the children in our lives of You and your love, and help us to love them as You do.