During Queen Mary’s reign in the 1500s, nearly 300 people were burned at the stake for their worship of God. No wonder she was called “Bloody Mary.” One man Mary hated was John Rogers, a Bible translator, and Protestant preacher. As the sheriff led him to the stake, they asked if he would recant his protestant beliefs.
He didn’t miss a step, but replied, “I’ll seal what I preached with my own blood.” The Sheriff called John a heretic, yet he promised to pray for him. Singing, he passed his wife and eleven children, yet even for them, he would not recant.
Today, in the United States, we wouldn’t be burned at the stake for our religious beliefs, but Open Door: Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide reports that, around the world, each month 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 211 churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians. If you follow the news, you will see, even in the United States, the subtle persecutions of those who believe in the precepts of God’s Word. How do we respond to the persecution and, more importantly, how do we teach our children to respond?
I believe our children should have a love for and foundation of God’s Word if we want them to look in the face of those who despise our God and stand for truth.
Teach Them Truth is Absolute
To speak of truth as "absolute" is to say that something is true absolutely -- true unconditionally, "no matter what." Our goal in teaching our children truth is not merely for rote repeating. Our teaching should be saturated with prayer. We must pray that our children’s head knowledge will morph into a desire to invite Jesus to be Lord of their life.
When we teach our children the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” that is an absolute truth. We don’t dilute it by condoning abortion or euthanasia. When we teach our children, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” we don’t embrace it to encompass more than one man and one woman. When we say God’s Word is true, we don’t suggest Jonah’s big fish is a metaphor and didn’t actually happen. Steve Hann said, “God’s claim of absolute truth is so essential that man’s ideas should never intrude upon it.”
It’s easy in our desire to stand for truth to respond self-righteously – a prideful “better-than-you.” Paul called self-righteousness filthy rags. We must teach our children to stand for truth with humility and kindness.
Along with teaching absolute truths, should be the demonstration of joy in living those truths. Obedience to God and His Word is not a drudgery to be endured, but a privilege to be lived. Thomas Watson said, "The apostles went away rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ, that they were graced so far as to be disgraced for the name of Christ!" Read your children stories of the persecuted church. As a family, give up soda for a month or a planned trip and donate the money to Voice of the Martyrs or another ministry that serves Christians being persecuted for their faith. Teach them Hebrews 13:3: Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
Our children may not face John Rogers’ fate in 2017, but they need to be prepared with a knowledge of absolutes, and a heart so in love with God that they will stand for Truth without fear of consequences.