When I want to protect something from being harmed, I carefully put it in a box. On the other hand, when I want to protect my children from harm, it would be abusive to put them in a box. Yet, my human nature will sometimes influence me to do the next best thing: isolating them from the world in which they were intended to live.
While it is true that God’s Word tells us that Christ followers have nothing in common with the world, developing personal holiness in our children involves much more than merely isolating them from the world (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day intentionally separated themselves from people and environments that were considered “unclean”. But, Jesus rebuked them because personal holiness cannot be achieved through separation from the unholy. (Luke 11:37-41).
At this point you may be thinking that it’s a poor comparison to use religious leaders to convey a point about innocent children. Please don’t miss this principle: isolation from the world does not, in and of itself, result in personal holiness.
God’s goal for His children, including our children, is sanctification rather than mere isolation.
In John 17:15-16 Jesus is speaking to God the Father concerning His disciples: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of it. Jesus’ love is to be shared with this lost and dying world. For this reason, we should train children to be effective for Christ’s kingdom without being affected by those who do not live for Christ.
Please don’t misunderstand Christ’s point in this passage: Jesus’ goal for His followers is for them to be unaffected by the influences of this world so they can be effective for His kingdom. However, as with all areas of maturity, becoming unaffected by the world’s influences is a process. In order to pursue Christ’s goal, parents need to rely upon the Holy Spirit to guide them in consistently and age-appropriately training their children to effectively serve Christ, while avoiding the temptations of the world.
In verse 15-16 Jesus, knowing that it may be difficult for us to allow our children to operate in this world, asks for His Father’s protection. As parents, our goal (as challenging as it may be) should be to obediently follow God’s instructions and leave the results to Him.
Verse 17 is key for us as parents: Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. Jesus’ goal for us, as well as our children, is sanctification rather than isolation. According to this verse, the only way a person can be truly sanctified is through daily application of biblical truth.
Are you using God’s Word in your child’s life as the dividing line between godly and ungodly influences? In what ways are you using God’s truth to recognize and choose activities that are Christ honoring?
Lord, my desire is for my children to honor and serve you. But, my heart wants to shield them from the world. Please enable me to consistently instill your truth in their lives so they will be equipped and set apart for Your service.