I grew up Catholic. Before you think I’m one of those with the so-called “Catholic guilt” or negative feelings about my upbringing, let me assure you it’s quite the contrary. I am deeply thankful for how I was raised, and while I did not fully know the Bible, I did know Jesus. And I loved Him passionately—with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
Perhaps, like me, you grew up Catholic. Or maybe you don’t come from that denominational flavor, but you did grow up with more traditional elements like sitting beside your parents in a pew, singing music from a hymnal, and dressing up as a sign of respect about where you were going. Maybe you have grappled with your thoughts on these parts of your upbringing and considered which are important to pass on to your own children and which you wish to leave behind entirely. I’m just beginning to realize there are aspects of my upbringing that play a much bigger role in my life as an adult believer than I ever knew before becoming a parent. After talking with a few of you, I’ve realized I’m not alone in these reflections.
Most of us would agree that no church is perfect. After all, the church is made up of sinners. But the God we love is perfect, and He is so creative that He weaves our stories together, and a beautiful tapestry of traditions are passed down through generations—generations that make up the Church. While we try to leave our children with the better parts of our own upbringing, we look to the Word of God for clear direction about what is biblical and what is not. For those gray-area topics, we have the Holy Spirit to provide discernment and direction about what He desires for us and our families. One example of these sometimes gray areas is communion. The Bible certainly gives us guidelines about what is appropriate in regard to receiving it, but it does not give a clear cut answer about what physical age someone must be to take part.
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Each one must examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
If you took communion as a child, you may have gone through specific classes first as a way of making certain you understood what it was and wasn’t. Or perhaps you grew up rarely, if ever, seeing the bread and wine in church, and it is something incredibly foreign to you, even as an adult. The point is, for those who grew up in church, we all grew up differently! Because of this, there are topics we often don’t think much about until we become parents. Only then do we realize we have opinions that are deeply rooted. From the details of baptism to how often to take communion, to taking our children to “big church” as a family. These points for parental discussion can become points of contention if not truly prayed about and talked through with your spouse. The Bible doesn’t say how often you should take communion, nor does it say you need to go through a class before doing so. Hence, a gray area. The good news is that these personal gray areas can become very clear when you go to your very personal Jesus. And remember: you aren’t Him, so don’t force what you feel is black and white on others. That is not loving—nor is it the Gospel.
There is a real enemy who really wants to divide families. How much more enjoyable it must be when he divides them over issues of the faith. Don’t let church traditions divide your family. Talk about how you were raised. Talk about what you think when it comes to the gray. And before, during, and after talking, never cease to pray about knowing and then doing God’s will when it comes to raising those He has entrusted to you. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6
) This is what matters. He is who matters. When teaching your children, teach them to see and enjoy the incredible tapestry of traditions God is weaving together through those who make up His Church. It’s a beautiful sight to behold.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and recently welcomed the arrival of their first little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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