Summary: Parents have an awesome task. I am confident that every parent here felt the weight of that responsibility the first time they held their child. Everyone mother and father—and grandmother and grandfather—knows what I am talking about. If we feel over

Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister

First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO

Family Classics Series 2006

Growing Kids God’s Way

Luke 2:21, 39-42, 51-52

Introduction: The most powerful job in the world is not the president of the United States, the Secretary General of the United Nations, or even Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The most powerful job in the world is that of a parent, any parent.

Rose Kennedy, mother of President John Kennedy and matriarch of one of the world’s most influential families once said, “Whenever I held my newborn babe in my arms, I used to think what I did and what I said to him would have an influence, not only on him, but on everyone he meets, not for a day, or a year, but for all time and for eternity. What a challenge, what a joy!” (Cele-brating Mothers: A Book of Appreciation. Edited by Glorya Hale and Carol Kelly-Gangi. MetroBooks, 2002.)

Another writer observed the same truth from the opposite direction. “When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send for this thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of obscure [parents]. And then God puts the idea into [a mother or father’s heart and they] put it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are [young children].” (E. T. Sullivan, quoted in The Marriage Affair, ed. By Eugene Peterson, p. 131.)

Parents have an awesome task. I am confident that every parent here felt the weight of that responsibility the first time they held their child. Everyone mother and father—and grandmother and grandfather—knows what I am talking about. If we feel overwhelmed by our task, imagine how Joseph and Mary must have felt when given the responsibility of raising the Christ-child. They knew what was happening. They had both heard the angels’ messages. They believed God was doing something unique and special. But they also knew they had an awesome job ahead of them.

The Bible doesn’t tell us many details about the childhood of Jesus. But what the Bible does tell us about those early years is quite revealing. Let’s look at what we do know and the model it provides for parents. The same principles apply to the youth and children’s ministries of the church. Those of us in this church are not just concerned about our own children. We care about all the kids around us that we can influence for Christ. That’s why many of you have dedicated yourself to teaching Sunday School, working with youth, and befriending children and young people who cross your path. That too is an enormous task.

Our text tells us something about what we want for our young and part of what it takes to make that happen. Consider those two areas briefly.

First, note how Jesus grew. That little verse in Luke 2:52 summarizes the childhood years of Jesus in a dozen or so words. Luke tells us, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” The emphasis seems to be on the balance. The four areas of Jesus’ growth provide a blueprint for what every parent and grandparent wants for their young.

Jesus grew in wisdom. That certainly includes growing in knowledge and understanding of the world around him. Jesus had already demonstrated an unusual grasp of spiritual matters. In part of the text that we skipped over, he confounds the learned teachers with his insight and questions. But our text also seems to suggest part of his development was normal and natural. I am sure that Mary and Joseph, just as all parents in this room, wanted their child to learn and grow. We’re proud when our kids do well in school. But that only happens when we encourage, challenge, and make learning and growing a priority.

Wisdom in the Bible, however, means more than book learning. Wisdom means the ability to make smart decisions and tell right from wrong. When it comes to morality and faith, every child is home schooled.

Jesus not only grew in wisdom, he also grew in stature. Physical health matters to God. Our faith is not just a matter of the mind. We teach our kids that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We all want our kids to develop healthy habits that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. That takes effort and personal discipline on the part of parents and grandparents. The path of least resistance leads to disaster. If you’ve seen, the TV program “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids” you understand the concept. The show is about families trying to undo poor habits that are developing unhealthly lifestyles in their kids. This area matters.

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