Seeing is believing, for a visual generation

Sandra Bullock, starring in the movie The Blind Side, made an amazing statement during an interview. Speaking about the Christian mom she portrayed, Bullock confessed, “I finally got to see someone who actually lives what they believe.” “I finally got to see” – Those are very indicting words.

In this true story, Bullock plays the role of a foster mom whose faith compelled her to adopt a boy from the streets. This mom lived out her faith in her home, for the boy and for all of us, including the actress, to see. As so often happens, the story behind the making of a movie can be as exciting as the story the movie tells. Bullock was confronted by the faith of the mom she was to portray. She was  forced to admit that she has finally seen faith in Christ lived out. Great story!

We love these stories behind the stories. But there’s a word in this for each of us, especially for parents. Living in America, chances are an actress like Sandra Bullock has heard the gospel.

Through television, through the many Hollywood ministries or through some friend, chances are very good that she has at least heard the gospel. But as her statement indicated, she had never seen the gospel lived out.

Chances are our children have heard the gospel. For many reading this article, the children are in church every time its doors are opened. But are they seeing faith lived out behind the closed doors of your home, where it really counts?

What do your children see when they see you coming down the hallways of their little lives? Do they see a person more than willing to admit to imperfections? A person willing to say such incredibly difficult words as, “I am sorry. I was wrong. This is not how Jesus would have me act. Will you forgive me for yelling?”

Do our children get to see a mom or a dad who spends personal time reading the Bible and praying? Praying done at home is obviously for God, and for God alone. Serving directed at family members, as well as done with them, is obviously done for God. As Christ frequently reminded the religious leaders, service done in public is not always done for God. The home is where it counts most, because the home is where the next church is being raised.

While reading this article, some of you might have allowed your minds to focus on your spouse, or on the lifestyle of an ex-spouse. Don’t let that happen. Don’t get distracted like that. You are your own full-time job. It’s you that you need to focus on. You are the one person your child gets to watch, day after day.

Deuteronomy 6 doesn’t only tell parents to teach about God; it also tells them to make God the ongoing part of their lives when they get up, walk around the malls, sit down at home and lie down at night. Verse six (NIV) says that this will leave the necessary impression that you really believe what you are hearing from the pulpit on Sunday.

In this information era, every child attending church will hear of a religious leader who has gone astray. Many children will spend part of their lives in a church where a pastor they know has fallen. Children desperately need to know people who really believe what they say they believe. Not a perfect person, but a God-honoring one. A person, in the words of Sandra Bullock, who lives out what they say they believe.

This is most assuredly the visual generation. What are you showing them? Our culture is raising an overly informed, skeptical generation, which is growing up right now. What is your day-to-day life showing them? What do your children see when your children see your life? If seeing is believing, what are your children seeing?

Dr. Robert Barnes is the president of Sheridan House Family Ministries. He and his wife, Rosemary, are authors and speakers on marriage and family issues. 

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