Nurturing the faith of the children through God-centered teaching is one of the greatest privileges of parenthood. It is also a sacred obligation. The task cannot be done on an occasion basis. It must be a continous process -morning, noon and night. See 11:18-20. The subject matter emphasized in this passage is the Shema (6:4-9), probably the most quoted Scripture in Judaism. The Wod of God is to be quoted, explained, discussed, symbolized, and written down. Most important, it is to be "written upon the heart" and incorporated into the parent's way of life so the children may have a daily example of godly living.
God's commandments were given to us for our good, to teach us proper reverence for Him, and to bring us long and abundant life. We are to fear God only and to prove our reverence for Him by obeying His commandments.
For Judaism 6:4-9 became the confession of faith, known as the Shema, that should be recited daily. Jesus cited this commandment as preeminent over all of the law (Matt.22:37). The people of God need to know, from their innermost being, that there is only one God. Faith in God is meant to be a living relationship involving the totality of life, faith is not an isolated item of intellectual belief stored in the recesses of the mind. Nor is faith in God performing certain rituals or adopting an uncommitted style of life. He wants us to organize our entire lives around His sovereign Lordship and love Him with the totality of our being.
This passage is one part of the Shema, a confession of faith read in contemporary Jewish synagogue worship in the Friday and Saturday services as the Torah is taken from its ark. Faithful Jews in Israel were required to read it twice daily to remind them of their faith in one God and their dependence on His Word. The central theme of having God's commandment in the heart and teaching them in the home is as relevant to modern Christian home as it was to J ewish homes in the biblical world. (Ps.1;119; Heb.5:11-6:3. Reading and talking about the Word of God is intended to be a normal part of everyday life in the home rather than some formal time that is distinct from other home activities. Parents should share their own faith in God in times of crisis and joy to influence children to understand the reality of God's presence. Families reading the Bible together in response to questions and problems will help make it real for life in the minds of parents and children alike.
Values Begin at Home
In the animal kingdom some creatutres have no sense of family at all. They give birth and that's as far as the family relationship goes. But God created human beings with certain needs that call for family involvement. The human family provides shelter, protection, care, a sense of belonging, a learning environment, and a secure base from which the grown child is launched into a new family unit.
The family is especially important to Christians. God's special relationship with His people is intended to be carried out through families. In the Old Testament times, parents were responsible for the spiritual and moral nurture of their children. Today's notion that schools or agencies can serve as substitute parents is not based on God's Word.
1. A Christian family can choose among three ways to view their duty to provide for children's spiritual and moral development. The first claims that the family is solely responsible and should not count on any outsiders to help in the moral and spiritual instruction of the children. This viewpoint is the most conservative, and in some respects it is quite biblical. It suggests the frontier family living on the edge of civilization. But this choice regards the family as a lonely island. It aasumes that there are no likelihood that any social grouping larger than than family can be developed.
2. The second view holds that the family is inadequate as the source of the children's moral and spiritual development. In our complex society, the family's only hope for moral and spiritual growth is in receiving outside help. At the heart of this choice is a need to transfer the family's duty to someone else. This second choice is behind the idea that churches, especially Sunday Schools, should replace the family in matters of the moral and spiritual nurture of children. More often than not, this view is not so much a conscious decision as a willingness to accept agencies, organizations, and institutions as an "easy wau out."
3. The third view is that the family is primarily responsible. Even though help can rightly be sought, the responsibilty stays in the family. This third view is a combination of the best features of the two. It assumes that there is no way to push the responsibilty for the family development off onto someone else. This third view is most in narmony with Scriptures.
Human development takes place over a lifetime. Close relationships with other people are important in the developmental process. It follows, then, that the family is needed to provide key learning experiences - for children and for adults.
The traditional family is dying of neglect and disinterest. Aside from certain unpopular voices among religious and certain secular leaders, few mourn the passing of the stable family.
Today well over half of all mothers of school-age children work outside the home. Paul Glick, senior demographers for the U.S Bureau of the Census, says that four families in ten are becoming reconstituted families after divorce and remarriage before the youngest child reaches the age of eighteen. Beyond this statistics are the hundreds of thousands of children who are reared by only one parent.
Theses facts bring us to the crucial values that should distinguished the Christian family. Regardless of the particular style or structure of the family, three basics exist: love, fidelity(between marriage partners), and responsibilty (especially for the loving nurture of the childre).
Fidelity is at stake today. All of us are victims, to some degree, warn against of today's loose sexual standards. The Bible persistently taking sexual matters lightly. Why such emphasis on sexual standards in the Bible? Because the sexual relationship is part of the family foundation.
Responsibilty is also at stake. The depersonalized society makes it easy to shirk any sense of duty. Indeed, some words are becoming meaningless - responsibilty, duty, obligation.
The home where Christian love, fidelity, and responsibility are taught is honoring to God. With this kind of background, biblical concepts are easier to understand. The Bible uses the imagery of father to describe God and family terms (sonship, brothers, sisters, birth, adoption) to explain relationships among Christians. How can you understand these ideas if you have never experience them? With no point of reference, these descriptions become abstract concepts.
Many people have never had a warm, loving relationship with their fathers. With such deprived backgrounds, no wonder so many fail to understand the biblical description of God as a loving Father.