From “Veggie Tales” creator Phil Vischer, reflecting on his years as a pioneer in family-friendly, Christian entertainment:
“I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality. . .
Barrett Johnson comments:Do you teach your kids “be good because the Bible tells you to” or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.
I think that’s profound — and convicting. As a parent, I have a tendency to evaluate myself on whether my kids are doing good things. Are they excelling in school? Are they respectful to their elders? Do they practice and play hard at sports? Are they good teammates and loyal friends? The list can – and does — go on and on. Life by this list can be destructive. Seasons where kids are doing well build arrogance — in parent and child — while the rougher times can oppress the child and create waves of despair in parents.
This is a temptation even within homes that would scoff at the idea that they’re the least bit legalistic. (“We’re not fundamentalists! We drink bourbon and watch Game of Thrones!”) But legalism isn’t confined to teetotaling Disney-boycotters but instead rears its ugly head whenever we purport to attain virtue apart from Christ. My message to my kids should be clear: Any virtue you see in your father is due to Christ alone. Any good in yourself is due to Christ alone. Therefore, we boast in Christ alone and rely on Christ alone.
There’s no formula for raising Christian kids, but the truth certainly helps.