Thursday, July 20, 2017

Study Starter: Do We Teach Children Faith?

Study Starter: Do We Teach Children Faith?
by: Christopher Wiles

     Last week I introduced you to the Hebrew concept of “Chaos” through our children’s Sunday school songs. Today, let’s get better acquainted with the Hebrew concept of “Faith” through the exact same vehicle.  So begin listing your kids’ Sunday School songs that talk about the word “faith.”  Hmmm, Jesus Loves Me?  Nope.  Deep N Wide? Nuh uh.  Father Abraham? Nada.  Arky Arky?  Zip.  Lord’s Army? Zero.  Jesus Loves The Little Children?  Zilch. 
     I can’t find any mention of faith in my searches of children’s Sunday School Songs.  Why aren’t we teaching our children about FAITH?!?!
     Ahhh, but an understanding of Faith from a Hebrew perspective may help us out.  For starters, today, we tend to view faith as a cognitive activity, similar to belief.  Therefore if we simply jump through the cognitive hurdles to believe that Jesus came, died, and rose again, then we have faith, right?  Not quite. 
Exodus 17:12 "EMUNAH" is a steadying action!
     Faith in the Old Testament is a much more active and volitional word than our modern world teaches. “EMUNAH” shows up as a noun 49 times in the OT, but mostly in the book of Psalms (see Vines Expository Dictionary for more).  The first time we’re introduced to it is in Exodus 17:12 when Moses’ hands were heavy, but Aaron and Hur held up his hands until sundown. What they did was made Moses’ hands “steady” (KJV) or faithful.  Thus we have a good foundation for what faith really is.  It is a steadying force in our lives.  That jives well with the devotional on Hebrew faith that states, “But the Hebrew word for 'faith' - emunah - is less about KNOWING, and more about DOING.  'Emunah' literally means ‘to take firm action’, so to have faith is to act.”
     This abstract concept that combines our beliefs, our decisions, and our actions is tough to understand, which is why James tries to help followers of Christ by writing, 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:14-17
     So, are we teaching our kids about faith, even though we don’t actually sing about the word “faith” with them?  Well, “Jesus Loves Me” does work on a fundamental belief“I’m in the Lord’s Army” encourages them to declare a position. “This Little Light of Mine” encourages children to admit that they are going to DO something about their beliefs as they sing “All around the neighborhood, I’m gonna let it shine…”
     So yes, we are teaching children about faith in the songs that we sing because faith is so much more than simply a word or a belief; it is believing, deciding, and acting.  Due to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, let’s strive to live faithfully the truth spoken in our children’s songs and in our Holy Scripture.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

Living Lessons & Study Starters are articles written for the weekly Washington Church of Christ bulletin.  You can find more by clicking HERE or searching for "Study Starter" in the right sidebar search.