Talking with your teen about the Word of God
Today’s generation is definitely different from my own, and my parents’ generation. They have often been called Generation Y, and communication is a very important part of their lives with email, texting, online gaming, and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and MySpace.
Their need for real and honest relationships include a potential one that they may develop with God . They also often want to know why the Bible should have any place of importance in their lives.
The Bible is not irrelevant or hopelessly out of date, despite what many teens might think. It is timeless truth. We as Christian parents can use the Bible in open, honest talks with our kids to teach them its precious value and worth, and how it is applicable and relevant to today’s times and their own lives.
Many parents only teach the familiar, positive stories in the Bible like Joshua and the walls of Jericho coming down, David killing the Goliath the giant, and Jesus raising from the dead and ascending into heaven. But 2 Timothy 3:16-18 says that everything in the Bible is from God and helpful for our daily lives: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ”
For teens, it’s vital that they discover the whole truth of the Bible with you to guide them. We want our children to have a real faith and a real and intimate relationship with God.
We don’t need to worry or fret. Teens can handle the frank nature of many of the Bible stories, and God can handle their questions. Just think about the things they face each day in the outside world. If they can handle peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, sex, and television, they can deal with Cain murdering Abel, Noah getting drunk on the fruit of the vine after the flood, David’s adultery with Bathseba, Amnon raping his sister Tamar, and Judas betraying his friend Jesus.
The problem is that most parents hesitate sometimes when talking about the Bible with their kids, especially if it’s involving issues they are personally uncomfortable with or they don’t know the answer to their kids’ questions. It can be unnerving when your child is challenging your faith and even demanding to know why God is doing the things He is, allowing certain things to go on in the world (such as world hunger, bloody wars killing innocent children, or the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile). Yet my husband Ray says that an untested faith is not faith at all, and he is glad our daughter Leah asks lots of questions about the Bible.
God is our go-to person on this journey in life to teach our kids the Bible. Don’t worry about feeling inadequate and not having all the answers. God does. Don’t be concerned that your child is now on the definite path to hell and losing his faith if he or she is questioning God and what’s in the Bible. God will guide the discussions, if we are willing to take let Him be in control and follow His direction and wisdom.
One story that can be used is the one of Jephthah. This story is found in Judges 11:40. If there was ever a lesson in watching what you say, it is the story of this man Jephthah. He made a vow to God that if God would deliver the enemy the people of Ammon into his hands, he would offer up the first thing that came out of his house as a burnt offering to God, probably thinking it would be a little goat or a lamb.
He advanced toward the enemy and slaughtered them, subdueing them before the people of Israel. When he came to his house in Mizpah, there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing. He tore his clothes in grief, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.” He lost his daughter because of his own careless words.
Are you interested in this story? Your teens will be, too. This week Leah found this scripture in the Bible, and asked me about it, not liking the fact that God would require a man to kill his own daughter. While I was not sure if God really required the man to sacrifice his child, Ray seemed to think so.
But we decided to focus the lesson on the importance of watching what we say to other people – even promises that maybe we would rather not keep or can’t keep. We also told Leah that there are scriptures in the Bible that even we don’t understand, and we will just have to ask God about it when we get to heaven one day! The point is that the man should have thought about what he said before it came out of his mouth.
Kids need to feel like they can express themselves honestly and voice their opinions about God and the Bible (or any subject), without feeling rejected or condemned by their parents. There is no safer place to be than a home filled with God’s agape love and forgiveness. Your home should be a haven of peace and rest, a place permeated with love and acceptance, where you and your kids can talk about anything. There should an atmosphere in our homes to even encourage questions about God and the Bible in order to really know, love, and have faith in God.
It’s time we put our Bible where our mouth is and trust God with the rest. Let your teenagers discuss openly what they feel. We as parents can use the word of God to show our teens that God loves them so much and cares about every aspect of their lives.
We can teach them that He will help them through the hard times in their lives, and with their daily struggles. We can always take our questions to Him, and share with Him the things that are on our hearts.We can learn from the stories in the Bible, that we are all just human and desperately need Jesus.
Open, sincere discussions lead to trust. Praying, studying the Bible, and worshipping brings us and our kids closer to God. Through reading together, praying, and talking openly, teens learn and apply God’s truth. They become equipped with the tools they need to handle what goes on in their lives.
Teaching the Bible – all of its stories both positive and negative – doesn’t mean that teens won’t make mistakes. It does mean that they will begin to build a rock-solid foundation of truth to fall back on in hard times and a God who is willing to forgive their mistakes, just like He forgives us. Let the words of God lead you and your teen into all truth, starting today.