“Shema Yisrael, Yahweh Eloheynu, Yahweh Ehad”
This phrase is the centerpiece of the Hebrew faith. Their entire faith rested on this statement. It is usually rendered in English as, “Hear O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one (Dt 6:4).” It is interesting what instruction is given alongside this crucial piece of theology.
"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Dt 6:6-9).”
Alongside the centerpiece of their faith was the instruction to pass it on to their children. According to this verse, there are three requirements for this to happen.
1) Be Genuine “These words … shall be on your heart.” This is a pre-requisite in order to teach your children. Children seem to have built in baloney detectors and will most likely not commit themselves to something we do not commit to.
2) Be Intentional “...talk of them when you sit in your house...“. The Christian faith is an objective faith. Among other things, it consists of facts, doctrines, practical instructions, and stories. The elements are what enable a disciple to make godly choices in his life. Children do not learn these by osmosis or by accident. Teaching must be intentional.
3) Be Spontaneous “...talk of them ... when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up…”. Someone said faith is more caught than it is taught. This is so true. Facts can be taught. But spiritual formation and maturity is something that comes from talking about and modeling Christian principles for life as life is happening. Life is full of “teachable moments” if parents slow down and take the time to recognize them and turn them into parables or a memorable teaching.
So amid all the busyness of life, parents need to slow down and recognize what is really important. Parents need to ask, “Is what I am doing going to help my children be strong in the faith long after they leave home?”