By Kate Ritchie
Have you ever heard the phrase, "You are what you eat."? There may be some truth to that statement. I've often heard it said, "Abs are made in the kitchen." Fitness experts will often say that eating a healthy diet is overwhelmingly more important than the type of exercise you use to stay in shape. I believe there is a spiritual truth here too.
We have a steady diet of things we spend a lot of time thinking about and doing. We habitually engage in and think about the things we love, whether it’s sports, people's opinions of us, achievements, games, media...etc. We spend time- our most valuable resource, on that which we love. The reverse is also true; cultivating habits can also help us develop a level of importance and love. My kids might hate vegetables, but if I encourage them to eat a vegetable every day and continue this for some time, they may actually develop a taste and maybe even a love for a vegetable (eventually).
Theologian and author James K.A. Smith famously assessed that we, as people, are what we love. We are not as much thinking or acting people; we are people all about love. Additionally, our desires and passions drive us to do what we do and keep the habits we hold in our lives. And if this is true, which I believe it is, we can also develop habits of the heart that, if continued consistently, could shape and mold our hearts to love that which we want our hearts to love more.
Back to school is everywhere. And as I'm filling my shopping cart with school supplies, I find myself asking God,
"What are the real tools we need to navigate this school year?"
Matthew 6: 19-21 tells us,
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
As we prepare to send our kids back to school in just a few short weeks, how can we cultivate a home where the treasure is Jesus? As we long to see Jesus be the one who captures their hearts and imaginations, we must help them see that Jesus is the greatest treasure. We want to be a family that loves Jesus.
How can we cultivate a love for Jesus in our homes?
Jesus must be our bread.
Jesus often calls himself the "Bread of Life" (Jn 6). We need bread every day, multiple times a day, to nourish and sustain us for life. Without natural food, we will not survive. The same is true for our spiritual nourishment. Jesus gives life to our spirits; without him, we will surely wither and die. We make a habit of eating every day, and we love food! We must also make it a habit of needing Jesus every day so that we might have life in our hearts and homes. Seeking Jesus as a family must be a daily habit, so our hearts will learn to prioritize and love Jesus more.
We must display the goodness of God.
This school year will not always feel good. We will not only have good experiences. But Jesus is always good. We long to rest in what is good and pleasing; therefore, it is our job as parents to proclaim the goodness of God.
"Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!"" (Ps. 31:19)
We need the goodness of God in our lives. When we see his goodness, we cannot help but love him.
We must proclaim and tell of God's great love in our homes.
The Bible answers the question of why we should love Jesus with such simplicity, "We love because he first loved us" (1 Jn 4:19). We often make a habit of loving things that make us feel loved. Love can feel like love, but it can also feel like safety, security, special preference, boundaries, commitment, forgiveness, kindness…etc. God has loved us fully, completely, without fail, and selflessly to the very end. Our families will love God more when they know God's love more. We must be proclaimers of the love of God in our homes this school year. Children need to know that God loves them more perfectly than anyone else. They need the opportunity to respond to God's love.
Parents, as you fill your shopping carts with back-to-school items, use this action of the body to ask God to give your family what they need this school year. Make a habit of talking about Jesus and his Gospel daily in your home. Look for opportunities every day to tell your family about God's goodness and love.
If you need help making Jesus a habit in your home, check out Kids Faith Krate. We are a family discipleship tool with a vision of helping families make family discipleship easier and more consistent. We would love to partner with you.