Sometimes I am not sure if I’m teaching my 4 month-old how to talk or if he’s teaching me how to make noises. Regardless, I love our time together. And as we communicate through giggles, cackles, and words, I find myself constantly putting ideas into his mouth. When he smiles, I smile back saying, “Does little man think Daddy is silly? Yes he does, doesn’t he?” And I am not alone. I think, pretty much every parent, grandparent, aunt, and uncle verbalizes their thoughts about their baby’s brain activity as if the adults’ notion was the kid’s reality. Such conversations are naturally titled “baby talk.” And while baby talk is appreciated by families everywhere, our spiritual conversations with our kids need to be baby talk free.
The Danger of Good Desires
My wife and I very much want to see our son embrace Jesus as his savior. We continually pray for his soul and introduce him to Bible stories, and our church. But when he becomes old enough to talk and think about abstract things, we will have to fight the temptation to use baby talk to coax him into a profession of faith.
Here is what I mean. We could talk to our little guy about the horrors of hell and then ask him, “Don’t you want to follow Jesus and have a happy life?;” or we could say, “Mommy ,Daddy, Grandpa and Grandma will be in heaven, don’t you want to go to heaven too?;” or we could have him repeat the sinners’ prayer after us. We could put all kinds of ideas and thoughts into our son’s head and then ask him to act. Now, our little man might respond by getting scared and even saying a few words. But, he will only have acted on our thoughts as they relate to his sinful desires. You don’t have to be super spiritual to realize that saying a quick prayer is a lot less troubling than an eternity in hell.
The Power Of Salvation
But for our son to embrace Christ, he must embrace Christ. It’s redundantly simple, but it is a huge truth. He must realize that he is a sinner; he must want to repent; and he must desire to set his mind on things above. His words only matter if they are expressing his heart and his love for Christ.
Think of the crowd at Pentecost, the Ethiopian Eunuch, or the man born blind in John 9 (Acts 2; 8). Yes, they all needed to hear the gospel explained before they believed. But once they knew the glory of the mystery of Christ, they eagerly repented and embraced Jesus. Without any coaxing or sinners’ prayers, these people boldly asked, “Brothers what shall we do” (Acts 2:37)? No one had to speak for these new believers to make sure they got saved.
A Baby Talk Free World
Today, our kids come to faith in the same way by responding to the Word of God in faith. As parents, we are called to expose our kids to the gospel by teaching the scriptures, by correcting our kids in love, and by repenting of our own sins. Let’s faithfully follow the example of the Christ, the apostles, and the early church and introduce our kids to the gospel! And then, let’s trust God to work.
And in our zeal to see our kids saved, we must leave behind the baby talk. We can’t manipulate our kids into salvation by projecting our ideas onto them. Instead, let’s ask open-ended questions, such as: “Do you love Jesus; does this make sense; do you sin; what do you think about heaven; and if lying is wrong what should you do?” Then, let’s respond to their answers with truth, asking God to work!