By Jessica Connor
As the mother of two young children, ages 6 and 8, I try hard to make sure they are steeped in strong faith. I bring them to church, pray with them a few times a day, say blessings at meals, the usual. When hard times arise, such as when my son had a brief bout with a bully on the bus, they become good opportunities to show how God is always with us, walking beside us even when we can't see him.
For a long time it was my son, the oldest, who was the spiritual one, asking me deep questions about the eternal battle between Good and Evil, and reassuring me almost daily that we re on God s team, of course. My daughter had little patience for theology, other than a major fascination with Mary, Jesus mom, who she often saw flying through the air or hanging out in her bedroom at night.
But now that my daughter is in kindergarten, it s all starting to click for her. She s suddenly fascinated with all things religious. And the things that come out of her mouth!
In the living room, dancing with me to Taylor Swift songs: Mommy, I loooooove Taylor Swift. Is she a Christian?
At the grocery store, after a friendly older gentleman said hello: Mommy, do you think he s a Christian?
At IHOP, encountering an exceptionally sweet waitress who went out of her way to get my daughter both hot chocolate and juice just because: Mommy, I know she s a Christian.
Watching cartoons with her big brother on TV, when the villain bopped the hero on the head wearing a nasty scowl on his face: Mommy, he s totally not a Christian.
And then the other day, seeing a huffy lady in line at a store: Mommy, do you she s a Christian? Maybe we should ask her.
As adult Christians, we put much stake in our belief in Jesus Christ as savior. We know we are saved through that faith. We give over our heart, mind, body and soul to Christ when we choose to follow Him.
But what does faith really look like to a child? To a child, accustomed to the concrete, it s tough to say Hey, kiddo, color me a picture of what it means to have faith. You ll get everything from a person smiling to someone on her knees to a big swath of yellowy sunshine. ( That s God, mama. ) Of course.
Faith is intangible. And it s tough for a child ”hey, it can be tough for many adults ”to reconcile this overbroad concept of belief and the afterlife with how our regular life really looks like on a day-to-day basis.
And so, naturally, children tend to look for examples of what it means to be a Christian.
That s when good works come in. That s when a kind smile or a heavy dose of patience come in. That s when praying in a fast food restaurant or in the car come in.
Kids see that, and then it starts to click. Oh, that s a Christian. Now I get it.
I have no idea whether Taylor Swift or the IHOP waitress or the kindly older man at Publix are Christians or not. But I like the idea that my kids associate kindness with Christ, good works with God. I love that they think someone who s nice, does good, volunteers or is friendly to the checkout clerk is a member of what my kids call God s team (A.K.A. Christians).
Little eyes are watching. And, well, frankly so are grownup eyes, nascent believers, watching and waiting and looking to us, the mature Christians, to see just what faith is supposed to look like.
Let s model that and perhaps lead some more folks to the Lord.