You Can Become a Family of Ambassadors for Christ
- Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Welcome outsiders. Know that your kids are watching to see what kinds of relationships you have with people on the fringes of our culture – outsiders like rebellious teens, the disabled, the elderly, and homeless people. Remember that, while our culture fawns over powerful insiders such as celebrities, Jesus welcomed outsiders with as much enthusiasm as He did others. Treat everyone with the respect due them as people made in God’s image and loved by Him. Regularly talk with your kids about status in popular culture. Point out the differences between what traits God prizes in people, and what traits the popular culture admires.
Help your kids connect to people by speaking their language. Encourage your kids to become fluent in the vernacular of popular culture. Motivate them to try to communicate for kingdom purposes, just as ambassadors are trained to do. Help them connect cross-culturally by asking non-Christians for help when they genuinely need it. Remember that reaching out for help (perhaps from an agnostic neighbor or a Buddhist teacher) is a powerful way to build friendships. Train your kids to intrigue others with spiritual truths by talking about them clearly, without using religious jargon. Encourage your kids to make the effort to get to know people for their true selves – not just the images they project. Help them learn how to sincerely listen to people. Teach your kids how to reveal truths about their faith successfully as they converse with others.
Brush off judgment from other Christians who don’t understand your mission. Don’t worry about other Christians who judge you for engaging with popular culture (either by saying you’re conforming to the world’s standards, or, conversely, by asserting that you’re too intense about parenting). Boldly proclaim the freedom of the Gospel, which allows you to partake of any aspect of popular culture. Remember that Christianity is about love, not just legalistic rules. Limit your participation in popular culture only when doing so will help keep a fellow Christian from struggling with temptation, will reopen past wounds, or will open a door for sin in your life. Talk openly with your kids about any criticism that either they or you have received from others. Think critically about the issues raised. For example, discuss how your kids might choose clothes that are both modest and trendy.
Inspire your kids to become patriots. Teach them the lore and law of their homeland (their faith) by studying and meditating on the Bible with them and regularly pointing out how biblical truths apply to their everyday lives. Foster their ties to the community of faith by requiring them to attend church every week and encouraging them participate in a small group to build close relationships with other Christians. Encourage them to be citizens who love their King (Jesus) by showing them how much you love Him, and urging them to spend time with Him regularly in prayer.
Train your kids to be savvy diplomats. As your kids represent Jesus in world of popular culture, help them learn to open their minds and ears to listen carefully and with discernment to what people around them are saying. Teach them to treat all people they encounter with respect. Help them build camaraderie by sharing experiences with a wide variety of people, playing, chatting, and laughing together. Encourage them to recognize when a particular part of the popular culture is a gift from God.
Develop tenacity in your kids. Delay your kids’ forays out into various aspects of popular culture until they’re ready spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Be willing to evacuate them in case the culture begins to threaten them. Give them regular breaks from the stresses of everyday life (such as Sabbath days, periodic retreats, and fasts from certain activities) to recharge their batteries and refuel their creativity. Constantly pray for their spiritual protection and for God’s strength to help them keep living faithfully.
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