Monday, October 6, 2008
Baby Jonathan's Dedication
On Sunday we drove up to Rochester to have baby Jonathan dedicated at Gates Wesleyan Church. It's the same church we were married in, so we have a special connection there, although we've never lived in Rochester since we were married. The highlight of the dedication ceremony was when Jonathan grabbed the pastor's nose immediately after being handed to him (unfortunately we have no photo of that)!
It's a good reminder of the responsibility of a Christian parent not only to care for the physical needs of our children, but their spiritual needs as well. When I became a Christian at the age of 19 and went off to Bible college, one of the things that struck me about many of my fellow students was the fact that they didn't seem to have a really clear understanding of their own faith. Most of them had grown up in the church. Unlike me, many of them had no clear before/after testimony of a conversion experience. I had gone from partying and doing drugs to being a Bible college student within a month. Some of the other students were still partying and doing drugs (though not the majority thankfully)!
My reaction was to conclude that it was better to not grow up in the church if you wanted a strong faith - not a comfortable conclusion in my mind. But then I immediately had another thought: one day I might end up having kids, and I certainly wanted my kids to grow up in the church. But I also wanted them to have a strong faith that was their own, and not just something they lamely inherited from their upbringing without much thought given to it. How could this be done?
Now that I have three kids of my own I'm still asking that question. Am I doing enough as a parent to give my kids a strong spiritual foundation? They are certainly getting plenty of exposure to other Christians. But what will happen to their faith when they leave the cocoon? My first answer, of course, is to give them lots of solid apologetics. But beyond that my prayer for my kids is that they will have their own vital experiences with God, such as the experiences I have had that have shaped my life and my faith in so many ways. Good theology is one thing, but encountering the presence of God firsthand is when lasting life change really takes place.