Raising Idolaters: Pay Close Attention to Yourself
God despises worship given to anyone except Himself. He cannot stand it. Yet our children, like us, default to false worship. In an effort to promote true worship, let’s consider the flip-side. What does it take to raise idolaters?
1. Want what God hasn’t given you.
In Colossians 3:5, Paul makes a potentially shocking statement. He says that covetousness is actually idolatry. Setting our desires and affections on what we don’t have is an act of worship. How bad could it be for our kids if we comment on how much we wish we had our neighbor’s car? To drive past the river and long for carefree days and toys? To gripe at the supper table about how we wish we had money to eat out more? It’s idolatrously bad, and if we model covetousness, our kids will follow us into idolatry.
2. Teach your children that God’s gifts are better than God.
Are we actually satisfied with God, or just with the good things God gives us? Does His trying providence cause us to doubt His kind providence? Wendy Alsup helps us with this reminder, based on Job’s testing—“Satan can't believe we would trust God just based on His character and not on the blessings on earth He gives us. That's Satan's taunt—‘They only worship you because you are good to them. They'd never worship you if you didn't answer their prayers and take care of them like they expect.’”
3. Show your children that spirituality can be faked.
If we want to nurture idolatry, just show kids that worship can be staged. Sing, carry a Bible and “amen” here and there in a sermon, then tear apart the worship team and pastor on your way home. Talk piously at GraceGroup about application, then neglect it completely at home. If worship and spirituality are just acts and can be “put on,” we shouldn’t be surprised when our kids refuse to play our worship games.
4. Think little of corporate worship.
God intends to save us for corporate worship, corporate service, corporate life. But if corporate worship becomes too inconvenient or an afterthought, we actually communicate that worship is no big deal. If we can easily exchange corporate worship for an activity we like more, our kids will learn to worship other gods than the One who saves us for corporate worship.
5. Neglect family worship.
Perhaps equally damaging is limiting worship to a Sunday event. If we don’t teach our families how to worship at home, if we don’t model how to pray and sing and submit to the Word in our house, our kids will find little need to worship God with the reasonable sacrifice of their lives. Instead, Sunday “worship” will seem reasonable or even a little extreme, while daily cross-bearing will be out of the question and ridiculous.
6. Be inconsistent with private worship.
Nothing says, “Worship isn’t actually that important. Neither is the one true God and His Word,” like sporadic private worship. Parents whose devotion to Christ drastically waxes and wanes produce kids who will find a god worth a more consistent worship.
Given our kids’ natural bent away from true worship, plus our own failures and even unintended message of idolatry, how can we dare hope that the next generation will worship God? In the final part of this series, let’s consider “Run to the Gospel.”