This past Sunday I had the opportunity to teach on Multigenerational Faithfulness. During this time we looked at the role of the family, and in particular the fathers, in teaching and passing on the faith to their children. We discovered through Deuteronomy 6 and just a few other passages, that the family is to bear the primary role and responsibility of passing on the faith to their children. Therefore, the church, the government (i.e. public schools), and/or private schools, are to serve as secondary means and not primary. This means that these different organizations are to serve as support mechanisms for the family. For example, if the church provides a Sunday School for children and youth, the parents are to ensure that their children and youth are doing the required work, not the church staff. Moreover, if students are dropping out of school at break neck speeds, which they are dropping below 59% in 17 of the largest 50 cities (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,344190,00.html), it is their parents and/or legal guardians responsibility to ensure that their child is doing their assigned work, attending classes, and fulfilling other obligations and not the governments. That’s another story for another day.
Moving on, this past Sunday I told the congregation that I would provide the remainder of my notes for the message via my blog. The following two items will address what it means to “teach” and what we are supposed to teach our children.
What does it mean to teach our children?
Within the context of Deuteronomy 6.4-9, to teach is to teach what and why to Christianity by repeating, just like one would continually sharpen a knife by continually grinding it against a cutting stone (for an example http://youtube.com/watch?v=Z5X0PBY0XgI&feature=related).
Just as a chef sharpens his or her knife against a cutting stone, we too are to teach our children by continually teaching them the words of God, confronting unbiblical and ungodly beliefs and actions which may cause friction and sparks. With this image of a chef with a knife in hand, I want you to take it and put it on the back burner for a moment and let it marinate while we come to our next point.
What I would like for us to bring to the front burner is what are we supposed to teach our children? For us to discover what we are to teach our children, we don’t have to go any further back than to verse 6 in Deuteronomy 6. In a very general gist, Moses tells us that we are to teach “these words” (v. 6) to our children. “These words” that Moses is referring to our the words of the Law that he had been repeating for them prior to their entrance into the promised land. For today, the words that we should teach our children should comprise of the entirety of Biblical revelation from Genesis to Revelation (also see Romans 12.1-2 and 2 Timothy 3.15-17).
Not only is this the case, but there are a few other general principles that we are given from this passage and the surrounding context of what we are supposed to teach our children. In a nutshell we are to teach our children:
1. God’s promises (6.3)
2. About God (6.4)
3. About His saving acts (6.20-25; also see Romans 3.21-26 and 1 Corinthians 15.3-9)
Now, if you could reach to the back burner and bring forward the image of the chef with his knife, I would like for us to take what we have just glanced over and reconsider what it means to teach our children. For purely symbolic meaning let’s consider the example that sharpening a knife against a grinding stone provides.
Image that the chef with the knife in his hand is symbolic for a parent and/or legal guardian with their child. As the chef repeatedly grinds the knife against the cutting stone to make it sharp, so too are parents and legal guardians to repeatedly teach their children the Word of God which is to serve as the cutting stone to make us suitable for every good work (see 2 Tim. 3.17).
If you were a chef you wouldn’t want to press the knife to hard against the cutting stone so that you wouldn’t break or damage it. Therefore, parents and/or legal guardians, and in particular fathers, are not to press their children to hard and exasperate them or emotionally and/or spiritually wound them (see Ephesians 6.4).
This is what it means to generally teach our children and what we are to teach them