My wife and I were discussing this the other day: there are more non-Christians in our home than there are Christians. We weren't talking about what happens when, heaven forbid, a child dies, but the fact remains: none of our kids (aged 5, 2, and 1) have accepted Christ, and our oldest is getting to the age where we are starting to introduce her to the concepts of sin, grace, forgiveness, and repentance. Until the day they all (Lord willing) fully grasp these things though, the uncomfortable truth remains:
Our Kids Are Sinners
Can we get that uncomfortable truth out of the way early? Our kids, yours and mine, are all little pagan sinners. Can we all just say that out loud? I'm not even talking about the sin nature that is passed along to all of us from Adam, I mean actual, real-world sins of commission. After all, did you teach your kids to be selfish or defiant? Did you teach them to talk back and sass you? Did you teach them to throw temper tantrums in the grocery store? Of course not, odds are you're a great parent, and you're raising your kids well, but they still behave like this, they still sin, and it's our job to teach them how to behave in the world. Mike McGarry does a great job of expanding on this idea. Even if we are Christians, our kids are sinners, we need to recognize that.
God Never Promises To Save Our Kids
It's true. There is nowhere in the Bible, no verse that God promises to ensure all the kids from Christian homes become Christians. Even the staunchest covenant theologian would say that the individual must make a profession of faith and repent for themselves. There's no Biblical guarantee of that. Alternatively, there's no guarantee that, for a Calvinist, that our kids are a part of the elect. The best we can do is our best human effort to teach, train and equip our kids by living a Christ-filled, grace-filled life, teaching them the Gospel, and praying that the Holy Spirit convicts them and God saves them. When I realized that, in those terms, I realized that many of us are doing evangelism backwards.
The Evangelism Of Our Kids
Children are the closest thing we have in our world to understanding unconditional love. But it's not unconditional. I love my kids, but there's a condition on that love; they are my kids. Now, there's no changing the fact that they're my kids, but my point is that I love my kids because they're mine, I don't (and shouldn't) love your kids the same way and to the same degree that I love my own.
Here's my point about Evangelism though: my kids don't have to behave a certain way to be allowed into my family, and they also don't need to be "good kids" before I share the Gospel with them. In fact, there's nothing they can do that would make me stop loving, caring, and teaching them about Jesus. There is nothing they can do to stop being my kids. When they sin, as their father, it is my role to correct them, but they don't stop being my kids. Put another way: Their behaviour does not dictate or determine the love I have for them.[bctt tweet="Their behaviour does not dictate or determine the love I have for them." username="thekevinseguin"]
The Evangelism Of The World
So, why do we treat "traditional evangelism" any differently from evangelism inside the home? Why do we treat people outside of our immediate familial bubble any differently when it comes to proclaiming the Good News of Jesus to them? My kids belong to me whether they behave or believe; why, then, do so many believers think evangelism done outside the home is any different? You don't need to believe OR behave to belong. If you're not a believer, I'm not concerned about your behaviour at all. All the good that I do, all the righteous things I do come out of a heart of thankfulness for the thing that Christ has done for me. Dying on a cross and being raised again. Why in the world would I insist that ANYBODY who isn't a Christian behave like a Christian when they don't have that understanding of and heart of thankfulness for the Gospel? After all, the prophet Isaiah himself (Isaiah 64:6) calls righteousness without faith a "filthy rag" and useless. In essence, if we put behaviour before the Gospel, Isaiah tells us we are wasting our time.
Evangelism isn't hard, it isn't intimidating, it's easy. Love people, be kind, live thankfully for the grace you've received, and don't talk about behaviour until after you've talked about the gospel.
And for Pete's sake, don't judge others just because they sin differently than you do.