Tony Merida, pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC, recently published his reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic. One of his reflections was encouraging believers to take time during social distancing in order to grow in personal holiness. From the outset, I am in complete agreement with this reflection. However, I think this reflection could be more broadly applied than simply on a personal level. My purpose in writing this post is to provide a resource to assist parents in helping their children grow in holiness during this time of school closure.
What Is Holiness?
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”1 Peter 1:14-16
The Apostle Peter provides us with three answers to this question. The first answer is God is holy. When we think about holiness, our minds should begin by contemplating God through his Word. John Frame commented, “His personality shows his kinship with us, but his holiness shows his transcendence, his separation from us” (DCL, 20). Everything God is, does, and says, is holy. Therefore, he is our standard of holiness.
Our second answer is that we are not naturally holy, but are able to be redeemed in Christ. The fact of the matter is we are the polar opposite of holiness. We are sinners and separated from God due to our wickedness. So how can we pursue holiness if we are sinful people? The answer is found in Jesus Christ. When we believe in the work of Christ, this text says we become children or as the Apostle John states, children of God (1 John 3:1). In other words, we are covered with Christ’s righteousness in order to be brought into a relationship with God.
Once we understand that God is holy, and that faith in Christ saves us and covers us with Jesus’s holiness, we are able to provide the third answer to this question. Our faith in Christ propels us towards holiness. Peter tells his audience to pursue holiness by turning from their former sinful passions. If we are turning from our passions, what do we turn towards? We are to turn to God who is holy and conduct ourselves according to his revealed standard. His revealed standard is his Holy Word.
Pursing Holiness by Reading Scripture
After we have explained these answers about holiness to our children (in a way they are able to understand), we now have an opportunity to help them learn who God is, the standard of holiness he expects from his disciples, and the power of the Holy Spirit to help his children become like him. Parents, we have an opportunity in this season of social distancing to teach our children about holiness by helping them read the Bible. We have an opportunity to take intentional time to train our children while we are confined to our homes. Therefore, I would like to provide you with a way to help your children pursue holiness by reading the Bible.
STep One: Pick out a passage of Scripture
Pick out a passage that your child or children would enjoy reading. This week one of our children read Ezekiel 37 (The Valley of Dry Bones), and another read John 1:1-18 (John’s prologue). The Bible is filled with interesting historical narratives that will make your child’s imagination light up with biblical truth. Before they read the text, teach them to pray and ask God to help them understand what they are about to read.
Step Two: Ask these three simple questions
After they read the text (or before depending on your child’s personality), ask them:
- What does this passage teach you about God?
- What did you find to be the most interesting truth in this text?
- What is one question you would like to ask me about this reading?
Notice what these questions are designed to do. The first question helps the child comprehend that the Bible is first and foremost about God. We need to help our children understand that this is how we come to know, love, and understand who God is. The second question guides the reader to think about how a biblical truth either connects him or her to God or outlines what God expects from his people who follow him. The third inquiry allows the child to ask questions without fear in order to allow the parent and child to have some time interacting with the text together. We want our children to talk about what they are learning about God, but we also want to train them to be comfortable to ask questions when they read something in God’s Word they don’t understand.
Step Three: Pray with your child
Take a moment to ask the child what you can pray about with them. Thank God for this opportunity to grow closer to him with your son or daughter. Ask God to continue to reveal himself to you and your child through his Word. Request that you and your child will continue to pursue a life of holiness as you both read God’s Word together.
My encouragement to all parents is that we not squander this social distance time together with our children. We should look at this time of isolation as a great opportunity to connect with and disciple these little image-bearers God has given us for a temporary amount of time. Remember, mom and dad, the words of Paul in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Yes, I know it says “Fathers,” but we can infer that it is our responsibility to train and instruct our children into pursuing personal holiness by reading Scripture.
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