CHRISTIANITY AS A WAY OF LIFE
Christianity is not just a set of religious beliefs that we subscribe to. Christianity is, for true Christians, an entire way of life. Christianity is the beliefs and doctrines of God, the teachings of Jesus Christ found in the Bible, put into practice and is the daily way of life for a devout Christian!
As a devout Christian father, it was my greatest desire to pass onto my children a genuine, fervent love for Jesus Christ and a genuine Christian way of living. I earnestly sought to inspire them, inculcate them, imprint them, and instill in them the Christian way of life. This was my greatest ambition, my most important objective.
My wife and I deliberately worked toward this objective every single day of our lives as their parents. We sought to exemplify to them in our words, in our deeds, in our way of life, and in our interactions with each other and with them, an authentic Christian way of life. My wife taught them scriptures, and the truth and validity and the power of those scriptures were illuminated by the way Kathy lived with our children as their mother and teacher and the way I lived with our children as their father and a pastor. They witnessed firsthand and experienced in real-time the reality of our Christian way of life.
They did not see our perfection, but they did see our humility through our imperfection as we humbly admitted when we were wrong, or when we acted, or spoke in an unchristian way and apologized to each other, or the children.
Fathers, one of the most significant aspects of the Christian way of life is the priority Jesus places on servanthood. True Christianity is a life of service to others. Service to our family, service to other Christians, and service to those who do not know Jesus. This is the antithesis of what we see going on today in our world. Never before have we witnessed such a self-focused, look at me, “I want to be a famous” generation in the history of the world. With the advent of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other sites like it, we have taken a deep dive into the selfish, self-centered heart of human beings. They are in love with themselves. Never before has there been a term called a “selfie”.
Never before have so many young people traveled the world with the primary reason being to post a selfie of themselves in real-time or a 360 video in real-time, as they stand near a waterfall, or a canyon, or some exotic place that shows off their extravagant waste of money on themselves with the express purpose to show off to their friends, and create a “look at me moment”, a one-upmanship adventure post on their Facebook or Instagram account. You think I exaggerate and yet the travel industry today, having done their own thoroughly researched surveys, finds that one primary reason so many young people travel is to post pictures of themselves on these trips on their Facebook or Instagram account. The boomers were the “me” generation, and we gave birth to the “selfie” babies who are today all over the web. Let me make it clear that I don’t think every person on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube who makes a post is being selfish or sinful. However, it is quite clear that most today have a deluded sense of self-importance overall, and very few young people today, or people in general, live their lives in devotion to the service of others.
Jesus made this statement of Himself: “I did not come to be served, but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.” The devout Christian understands that our lives are about service to God and service to others.
This Christian way of life, this Biblical truth, this Kingdom value, and practice is instilled in our children from the earliest age as they observe their parent’s way of life. They see it in the attitude mom and dad exhibit towards each other, in their eagerness and cheerfulness to serve their mate. They see it in the genuine joy we exude as we serve our spouse in the simplest of things. They see it in our actions of service to them as our children and they see it in us as they observe our service to a neighbor or fellow believer. They see it in our service among our faith community, they see it in the way we deal with the lost people around us. Our children either see a father and mother who truly enjoy serving and giving to others, or they see and experience a mom and dad who are self-centered, unwilling to serve others, to busy to serve others, or display a begrudging attitude when serving, or being asked for something.
When I was a little boy, my mother and father moved to California. I remember vividly my mom and dad taking me with them to the skid row missions of Los Angeles and my mother would play the piano for the men there. My dad would lead some singing and then share the gospel with those men. He would often let me stand by him leading the singing with him. I was about 3 years old. My mom and dad made time for the less fortunate, for the hurting and broken around us. I remember my dad and mom having my dad’s brother come live with us for a time as he was struggling with life. I will never forget when my precious mom had 5 young children at home and decided to have a Good News Club in her living room. Understand we were not a well to do family. We lived in an old pink house at the time in Muscatine, Iowa. It was quite small. My mother would bake from scratch homemade chocolate chip cookies and she would have me invite as many friends as I could from my second and third-grade class one afternoon a week. At times almost 20 rowdy kids would come. They would all sit on our old living room rug, my mom would lead us in some Bible songs, tell us all a wonderful flannel graph Bible story, share the Gospel, and give us all her award-winning homemade chocolate chip cookies. My mom exemplified servanthood. My mom lived a devout Christian life.
I have never forgotten how my dad tried to befriend a young man named Ron when we attended Stockton Baptist Church. This young man was struggling in life and school and my dad took an interest in him, as an athlete, to befriend him, and encourage him, and help him along in life. I remember like yesterday when my family moved to our home in Webster City. Living in the house next door was an elderly man whose wife had died. He had no children and was all alone. My mother would often take him her delicious made from scratch homemade pie or a homemade loaf of bread. My mother had the privilege of sharing Jesus Christ with him, and after praying for him for years, she was with him by his bedside holding his hand when he breathed his last breath.
I saw my mother consistently with a cheerful and eager attitude, serve her family of 8. I never remember her having a begrudging attitude, or a whining, complaining spirit. She washed our clothes, made our meals, cleaned our home, and cared for her little brood with genuine love and joy. My mom volunteered to teach the Sunday School class that most did not want, the Sunday school class of loud, restless little boys! She loved them. She eagerly prayed over their lives and taught them God’s truth. My mother, who is now 84 years old, still teaches and helps with Good News clubs in the city where she lives. Just the other day she cooked much of the Thanksgiving meal for the ladies living in her apartment complex! She embodies authentic Christianity and Jesus’ mission statement, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life for others.”
My wife and I also sought to emulate this truth as we gave ourselves to serve others. For many, many years my wife taught a group of 3 and 4-year-old’s, often a class size of 25-40 on Wednesday nights for our church. She would arrive early after homeschooling our kids for much of the day, taking all our children with her, and she would have them help her set up the whole class. They would take all the playdough out of the containers and work it with their own hands to soften all of it so when the children showed up, it was easy for them to make things with their little hands. They helped her set up the tables, other games, and fun things for the little kids to do. As my children got older they volunteered to teach Sunday school classes or help watch other kids. They used their musical gifts for decades to help lead worship, or sing specials, or play their guitars for others to sing along to.
As a Pastor for 32 years, my sole intention and purpose was to serve God’s people. It was not about being a celebrity or making a name for myself. It was all about serving and caring for other people, and my children witnessed this firsthand. My call from God was to be a servant of others. That call and purpose remains today, as I serve men through Strong Disciple.
Fathers, I want to encourage you to find ways to lead your family into a life of service. Be intentional. Teach your children that the devout Christian life is a life of serving others.
Here are a few simple suggestions. Start by teaching your children this verse.
Luke 9:48 (TLB), “YOUR CARE FOR OTHERS IS THE MEASURE OF YOUR GREATNESS!”
1. Teach your older children to serve their younger siblings. It could be helping them learn to read, helping them with their writing assignments, or other school work. Helping them get dressed in the morning.
2. This Christmas have you and your kids get involved in Operation Christmas child. Help them make a Christmas box of goodies for needy, hurting children around the world.
3. Take them with you to visit lonely, neglected people in a nursing home. So many never have a visitor or get to see little smiling children. Team up with a few other families, and go sing some Christmas carols to them.
4. Be involved in some tangible way serving your faith community. It could be as a teacher, or teacher’s helper, or a musician, or setting up tables, or clean up crew. The opportunities are endless.
5. Teach your children to cheerfully serve mom around the home.
6. Let me strongly urge you to help fill some action packs through Voice of the Martyrs, for the hurting, mistreated, persecuted Christians around the world. If you can only do one thing do this one!! Our Christian brothers and sisters are suffering greatly in the world today. https://www.persecution.com/actionpacks/
“VOM has shipped thousands of Action Packs to persecuted believers, and yet the need is far greater than we are fulfilling. Put your love in action by giving the gift of Action Packs.”
*Make sure to order the unfilled pack so that you can take your children with you to fill it with things yourself. I would encourage you not to buy the pre-filled pack, as it defeats the purpose of hands-on service involving your kids. Of course feel free to do both, as the needs are tremendous, just involve your kids!
I promise you this, as a father who has raised all 4 of his children, watched them all grow into adulthood, out on their own, with families of their own, if you implement what I have shared with you today, you will imprint our sacred Christian beliefs and Christianity as a way of life, deeply onto their soul and into their adult way of life.