Shining a Bright Gospel Light to Your Kids

Just before we moved into our new house, the previous owners were kind enough to give us a box of Christmas lights. They even pointed out a diagram, penciled onto a wall in the garage that showed which strand of lights went on which roof peak. I was ecstatic. Now, at long last, I would count myself among the festive members of the neighborhood!

In our old neighborhood, our spot on the street always resembled a big black hole. Everyone else's lot was glowing with Christmas radiance, but ours was punctuated with darkness. My husband didn't see the point of dragging out the ladder in early December and attaching lights to the trees and rooflines. He said, "Why would I risk my neck to raise my electric bill?"

But surely now this dark era of our family history would end. From this point forward, when December rolled around, the Popkin home would twinkle with Christmas cheer, bringing wonderment and joy to all!

How wrong I was. I quickly learned that it was not for lack of a diagram that our rooftop had remained unlit in years past. Nor was it for lack of actual lights. Because now we had both of these, and yet there was still no festivity occurring along our trusses.

The closer we got to December 25, the more I cringed at the sight of our conspicuously dark property. I was just sure that the previous owners were driving by on a daily basis and shaking their heads with incredulous disgust. I pictured them pulling over to the curb outside our house, leaning to look at our depressingly dark rooftop, and muttering, "Come on! We gave you a diagram. We gave you the lights, for crying out loud. At least have the decency to put them up and plug them in!"

I have no proof that the prior owners have ever driven by our house, checking to see if we used their lights. But even if they came straight to the front door and filed their complaints directly with my husband, I already know what would happen. Ken would smile and greet them warmly, then say, "Christmas lights? Nah . . . I'm good. But thanks for stopping by!"

Can you picture him there, grinning in the darkness?

A Different Kind of Light Display

Now picture something far more troubling. Suppose that, rather than previous owners driving by a house, it's a set of parents looking on from a distance into the darkness of their adult child's life. After straining to see, these parents drop their heads with incredulous sadness—not because their child displays no enthusiasm for Christmas, but because their child's life displays no reflection of the Light who came into the world at Christmas.

In bewildered tones, these parents say, "We passed our faith down to you! We packaged it up and gave it to you! All you had to do was take it." But even if these parents were to walk up to their child's doorstep and confront him directly, they can guess what he would say. He would smile and greet them warmly, then say, "Jesus? Nah . . . I'm good. I don't want to risk my neck for a Light I can't see. But thanks for stopping by."

Now, I'm not naïve enough to think that these parents could never be me. I've heard enough stories from hurting parents to know how sobering this task of passing my faith onto my children really is.

But here's what I've learned: A dozen variations of "the bridge diagram" can't give my sons a passion for Jesus. And my love for Christ isn't something I can pack up in a box for my daughter to take with her when she moves out.

My kids will only inherit my faith if it becomes their own.

My kids will only inherit my faith if it becomes their own. When my kids move away from my house, the only way they'll take the Light of the World with them is if He is already living inside their hearts—lighting up their lives from the inside out.

Parents, let us not presume that we can pass our faith on to our kids like a box of Christmas lights. We can't.

Plugging in the Light

But here's what we can do: We can embrace the coming of Jesus year round by happily serving Him as Lord. We can shine with the light of hope, even during the darkest eras of our family's history. And we can create homes that showcase the warm glow of Jesus.

We can shine with the light of hope, even during the darkest eras of our family's history.

Has your child wandered away from the Light of the world? Is he smiling, there in the darkness, unaware of his need for Jesus? Don't despair. The Light has not been quenched or unplugged. The warmth of the gospel invitation lives on in you! Take inventory of your influence. Where does your life border the cold, darkness of people who haven't yet invited Jesus in? Perhaps you are most connected to your own children. Or maybe Jesus has positioned you to shine into the lives of other people's children.

Whether or not you have Christmas lights plugged in this year, won't you use the Christmas season to spread the light of Jesus?

"I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness" (John 12:46).

About the Author

Shannon Popkin

Shannon Popkin

Shannon Popkin is happy to be sharing life with her husband, Ken, and together they have the joy of watching their three young-adult kids become the amazing people God created them to be. From the platform, page, and podcast mic, … read more …

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