I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. (CEV) Matthew 28:18-20
One of my favorite songs to sing as a child was, “This Little Light of Mine.” I loved to wave my light around and was sure not to “hide it under a bushel” or “let Satan blow it out.” The repetitive words and fun actions made it an easy choice to sing with my own young children when I became a parent. And while the words and motions are simple, they strike the chord of what it means to be made in God’s image (Genesis1:27) and let God’s caring qualities be seen by all the world.
People can get an impression of who God is by looking at us. This can feel like a weighty responsibility. Teaching your child about being a reflection of God might seem daunting. How can we teach this when none of us do it perfectly? These are some things you can focus on as you encourage your child to be a beacon of light.
All people are made in God’s image (Genesis1:27). This is easy for children to understand when they are thinking about Mom, Grandpa, their bestie, or teacher. It may be harder to remember about a bully at school, an annoying little cousin who is always tattling, or even the competition at the soccer game. Despite our tendency to overlook them, the person asking for money at a traffic light also bears God’s image. Help your child recognize that we are all made in God’s image and to see God in everyone we come in contact with.
Recognize that mirrors also reflect bad things. Not only do people see when we let our light shine, but they will also see when we are not reflecting God’s caring qualities. This can be hard for your child to hear. Sharing some of your own stories of times when you didn’t reflect God’s goodness will help reassure your child that we all fall short at times. Thankfully, we have a God who forgives us when our light flickers and gives us another chance to try again.
Choose each day what people are going to see. Each day (or each moment of the day, really) we have decisions to make about our actions. Will our actions show others what God is like? Will they see in us the fruit of the Spirit—things like joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)? Help your child understand that the more our actions are like Christ’s, the brighter our light shines. A frequent question at our dinner table was, “How did you let your light shine today?” Sharing your daily examples helps your child see and model what a Christian walk looks like.
Children may feel that no one is noticing their behavior or that it doesn’t make a difference. Talk with your child about how you see God shining in his or her life. Then ask your child how that gift can be used to point others to God. Also, find and share stories of people of all ages letting God’s love reflect in your community. Then challenge your child to intentionally think of two ways to let God’s light shine each day. Helping your child recognize and find these opportunities will help them let their light shine till Jesus comes again.
Want to do a deep dive? Check out Family Fire's article Your Family's Great Commission.