When these fears or “controls” come up, consider your brothers and sisters in the faith whose kids have NO Christian friends. God is good. He is faithful to us and to our children. He can make up for our lack of faithfulness as parents as well as our kids’ lack of Christian friends.
Every Christian who has kids wants his/her kids to have Christian friends. That’s pretty much a gimme. But I think if we take seriously the fact that our families ARE NOT ends in and of themselves (Gen 12:1-3), we will also pray that they have non-Christian friends who will come to know Jesus through our children and their activities.
Now how that is applied for each family will differ. Some may need to put strict limits and boundaries and decide how much his/her child is ready to seriously be a friend to others outside Christ. Some may just not be ready yet. But at the very least, we can regularly be praying for our kids’ unchurched friends. I do this each night with my 3 year old, praying for several of his pre-school friends to come to church with us.
And still, there is always some parental anxiety that bad behaviors will rub off. Of course, if we are honest, we would recognize that bad behaviors are more than just learned from others; they are produced from within our and our children’s sinful hearts. It’s not Spongebob’s fault. At the same time, Connar my three year old is probably too young to actually filter Spongebob through a Christian grid, so that, including disrespect, is a potential risk when he plays with his unbelieving neighbors.
One family unknowingly helped me and several other folks think through this issue.
We had a missionary family come visit the church a few weeks ago. They are going back to Germany in a year to begin tilling the soil for another church plant in Berlin. We asked them, “Who do your kids play with?” Their kids have NO Christian friends. In fact some families don’t let their kids play with these missionary kids because they are Christians. How reversed is that?
Ultimately you just have to trust that Jesus is bigger than your kids lack of Christian friends. They can still grow up to know Jesus, rest on Him, and tell others about Him. If He that is in us, is greater than he who is in the world, then we need not fear.
Is that not challenging to us in America? Will my kid have good influences? Enough Christian friends? How often should I let Jimmy the Pagan come over to play? These are questions church-going suburbanites ask. But I think we need to be reminded of the Christian community overseas, particularly those of missionaries. Perhaps we need a bit more faith in God and less faith in “seemingly” controllable areas.