Sometimes, I can be a nervous mom. Have you seen the world our kids are growing up in? Right now, I feel safe—I can control where they go, what they watch, and who their friends are. But as I think about the future for my kids, I wonder who they will choose to follow. Whether it's Facebook, our favorite Instagram pages, or the next YouTube star, we live in a world of influencers and never-ending opinions. I won’t be able to guide every decision or approve every mentor, but I can give them something even better. I don’t have to be so nervous. I can help them see and follow God.
This phrase, “follow God,” may seem obvious and ambiguous, but when we look closer at the book of 1 John, we see the beautiful hope of following Christ.
We know Jesus came to earth, but it’s easy to forget the magnitude of God taking on flesh. John tells us that Jesus’s life was “made manifest,” a word that means readily revealed, or perceived. Our God is not one who created us and left us to ourselves, but who created us in his image, and chose to relate us to himself. We see pieces of his character throughout his creation, and we see his hand through history and hear his words in scripture. Moreover, our God took the form of a person who could be seen and touched. We can’t comprehend the full nature of God, but in Jesus, God gave us a picture our human minds can begin to understand. When we tell our children to seek after God, we don’t give them an ambiguous God whom they will never know. We point them to the God that shows himself.
Even if our children have the example to follow, the stain of their sinful nature will get in the way again. The Bible shows us that we can’t follow God’s rules on our own. We see this when our kids disobey again and again; and we see it most clearly in ourselves. We know the truth of our sinful hearts. The beauty is that when we direct our children to follow after God, we know it’s only possible because of Jesus. It’s not possible because of our strength or because we’re “good moms”.
John tells us the commandment to follow after him is not a new one, but the old one. Since God doesn’t change, what he requires has not changed—he demands righteousness. But now, the “darkness is passing away” (1 John 2:8). If our children follow Christ, they have passed from the chains of sin into life. We can encourage our children to “walk in the same way in which he walked” because if they are in Christ, they’re new creations. We don’t just recite Christian lingo when we teach our children to follow after God, we give them hope—a hope built upon the solid cornerstone of Christ’s life and death.
Not only has God given his children a clear picture of himself in Jesus, but he’s given us the means to our heart change through the Holy Spirit. John tells us we’ve been anointed by the Holy One and we have knowledge. This anointing abides in us, and we have no need for anyone to teach us. We want our children to learn and grow from godly counsel, but we rest in knowing it’s the Holy Spirit who is at work in their hearts. It’s the Spirit who will actively work in their hearts toward sanctification, and he is sufficient. We may not know all our kids will face, but we do know if they love God, the Holy Spirit will never leave them and will carry his work to completion.
We don’t have to know every contingency plan for our children’s future. We don’t have to predict every future conflict and teach them how to get around every future stumbling block. You see, as much as we want to protect our kids, our Heavenly Father wants their greatest good even more. And he is the only one sufficient for the task. It’s never cliché pointing our kids to follow God. It’s not simple—it’s their lifeline.
Brianna Lambert is a wife and mom to three, making their home in the cornfields of Indiana. She loves using writing to work out the truths God is teaching her each day. She contributes to various publications such as Gospel-Centered Discipleship and Morning by Morning. You can find more of her writing paired with her husband’s photography at lookingtotheharvest.com or follow her on Twitter @look_to_harvest.
1 John 1:1
Ps. 19:1, Heb. 1:1-2
1 John 1:1
1 John 2:7
1 John 2:6, 2 Cor. 5:17
1 John 2:20
1 John 2:27