I love this question It comes from a father and French pastor named Raphaël. "Hi, Pastor John, thank you for this invaluable podcast.My question for you is, how can I best communicate Christian hedonism to my children during our family worship? Their ages are 5 to 12. What should be my goals and objectives? Any advice for a father like me? "
Clarify and Exemplify
I love this question Let's see if we can deal with it. It's been a long time since I was a daddy of young children. I had five, but it was a long time ago.
"Our children need to see us enjoying God: enjoying them in adoration, enjoying them in devotions, enjoying the normal tasks of life".
I have two things that I want to clear up in advance. Parents must clarify Christian hedonism and I would not recommend using the term with children. Forget about it. They do not need to know the word hedonism at the age of four or five or six, or anything else. I'm not asking you to clarify the term. I'm asking you to clarify the reality.
The other thing you need to do is to exemplify. So keep these two sentences – to clarify is exemplify – because that's what I'll talk about.
When it comes to clarifying, I have three suggestions.
First, show that the Bible commands to rejoice. For example, "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice" (Philippians 4: 4). Now children see that not only is it allowed to be happy; it is required that they be happy "in the Lord".
Of course, this will involve many conversations with the children on how to pursue this joy or happiness, especially if they do not feel it. This is a huge question and you can help them with that.
And it will involve many conversations about what it means "in the Lord", as opposed to simply being happy with its gifts. You can help young children understand the difference between being happy to have a mother and be happy for their mother to have breakfast. "Which would you rather have: mother or breakfast?" You can ask. They understand it.
Second, show the children what it means to become a true Christian by going to Matthew 13:44: "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man has found and covered in. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field ".
Now the children can understand why this man was really, really happy to sell everything. They will take it.
If you ask them, "Why? Because he was happy to sell his toys – all his toys? "They're going to say," Well, because the treasure was worth more than toys. "That's what they're going to say, which is right.
This is not a difficult concept to understand. You could also act in a small drama. I tried to imagine it. For example, hide the mother behind the sofa. Then you say, "Ok, let's go find Mum … I think I found Mum, Whoa – here she is."
Then she goes out, and now you have to ask, "Okay, what would you be willing to sell to let your mother stay in this house while you're growing up?"
Tim and Eric
Third, tell them my story about roses, but rewrite it for the children. I did it, so I'll read it now. Maybe you do not even know what my story is about roses, and I will not say the story of the rose: it will take too much time. So I'm going to come up with a situation and give you my version for kids. So this is a story you can tell your children to clarify the very essence of Christian hedonism, which is that God is most glorified in you when you are more satisfied with him.
"You can help children understand the difference between being happy to have a mother and being happy for their mother to have breakfast."
Pretend there's a family with a 12-year-old boy named Tim and an 8-year-old brother named Eric. Eric thinks Tim is the most beautiful thing in the world. See his elder brother. He thinks it's really strong. He loves spending time with Tim, and loves to go fishing.
His birthday is coming, and Tim's big brother really wants to make Eric happy with a special birthday present. So Tim takes some work around the neighborhood, helping people with their work in the yard to earn some extra money, so you can buy Eric a really pretty fishing rod with his own box of equipment.
But to make it really special, Tim puts a note in the tackle that says, "This is a certificate of promise that will get you fishing all day on Saturday after your birthday, just you and me." So Tim earns, buys gifts, wraps them, puts the note inside the box, and on Eric's birthday, Eric opens the packages, loves the cane, loves the plating.
Then open the box and find Tim's note. He explains it and reads it. "Wow," he says. "This is the biggest, I love the rod, Tim. And I love the box of equipment all day only you and me that we weigh? Wow. "
Now, suppose Tim, the older brother, smiles and says, "Nice to meet you, Eric." In fact, I can not think of anything I'd rather do or make me happier this Saturday than spend the day with you. " Suppose that Eric's face is blurred, joy comes out of his 8-year-old heart, and he snorts, "It's your pleasure." Nothing will make you happier. & # 39; So that's all you, Tim. It's all about what it makes you happy. You are so selfish. "
Now, Tim would be absolutely stunned by this reaction – without words.
Ok, this is the end of the story. Now ask your children, "Why would Tim be surprised, if not hurt, by Eric's answer this way?"
The reason why Tim is stunned, speechless, is because it never happened, right? Then your children would say, "Eric will not say it, Eric would never answer that way."
Why not? In fact, Tim said that it is my pleasure. He said, "I can not think of anything that would be make me happier that spend the day with you. "But you know, and your children know intuitively, that Eric will never get mad at this, he would never treat Tim as if he were selfish.
Why not? Because when Tim finds his happiness in spending time with Eric, Tim honors Eric. Treats Eric as if it were really something. Eric feels it intuitively. He feels honored. He feels loved. He feels cured. And he feels happy.
Tim is treating Eric as special. Tim is saying, "There's something in you, Eric, that makes me want to spend the day with you on Saturday."
Then tell your children that this is a parable. It's a story about how we should relate to God. When we enjoy God, or when we want to spend time with God, God is honored. So our being happy in God is what makes God great. Making God great is what the Bible says we should do: "Glorify God in all things" (see 1 Corinthians 10:31).
We must pursue happiness in God if we want to make God look fantastic. This is the way I would try to clarify Christian hedonism for children.
Lifter of Burden
More briefly, in a word or two, I will speak exemplify. I'm not sure how you do it, but I suggest you do two things to exemplify Christian hedonism.
"We should have fun with our children – not just enjoy God, but enjoy our children".
The first is that our children need to see us enjoying God: enjoying them in adoration, enjoying them in devotions, enjoying the normal tasks of life. God should feel happy for these children, because he is happy for us – that is, he feels like a weight lifter, not a weight giver.
He is a lifter of our sins through forgiveness because of Jesus. He is a lifelong lifter because we rely on him to work all together forever. Oh, how we communicate to our children if God is able to carry the burdens of life if we enjoy God in the midst of life's stress or not!
Enjoy your children
The second thing I would say may not be so obvious. We should have fun with our children, not just enjoy God, but enjoy our children.
We have made the case with our little story that a person is honored when it is appreciated. We want to honor our children, therefore. The Bible says: "Overcome one another in showing honor" (Romans 12:10). He says he is counting more meaningful, more honorable ones than us (Philippians 2: 3).
One of the ways we hold others meaningful, one of the ways we honor others, is manifestly enjoying their presence.
Many children feel a burden on their parents. They feel they are in the way. If we enjoy our children, we will tell them that the most natural thing is to enjoy what we value.
This will result much more easily in the worship of God than if the children felt only burdens. The way to bring up mature Christian hedonists is to manifestly enjoy God and manifestly enjoy your children. Take them ever deeper into the scriptures.
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