One of my favorite so-called super foods is Avocado. I love Avocados, mostly because they are the key ingredient to Guacamole, so maybe I should be honest and say that I love Guacamole.
But I have beef with Avocados and no, it's not because they are a vegetable (so no pun intended here). There is however this undergirding question whose answer seemingly continues to perplex the most ardent avocado lover: How can a person know without a doubt that an avocado is ripe?
[If THIS "How to know" list doesn't prove my point to the confusion and difficulty that surrounds the answer, I quit. I mean seriously with #3 on the list? "Gently squeeze the fruit. It should not be too hard or too mushy." What in the world!? Honestly, the above list should just say bluntly: "The way to know an avocado is ripe is...to BE OMNISCIENT!"]
To be perfectly candid, as a parent, my child's faith/walk with God/love for God is a lot like an avocado. With all three of my children (who by the way have all made a profession of faith in Jesus), it has been difficult at times to determine whether they possess a genuine belief in Jesus (AKA, if they are ripe), or if they have yet to be saved. I (figuratively) "gently squeeze" their little hearts to see if there are any signs of a sincere love for Jesus and quite often, all I get are self-absorbed-filled hard moments where they seem to only be fighting for their kingdom to come and for their will to be done.
That said, it becomes increasingly tricky when you throw baptism (believer's baptism - nothing against baby baptisms here, just need to pick a side for the sake of the post) and communion into the conversation. A couple FAQ's I receive monthly are: "When is my child ready for baptism?" and "When can my child take communion?" Many parents struggle to find the answers and lean heavy towards not encouraging their child's child-like faith (ironically) for the sake of making sure there is enough evidence to validate their child being baptized.
Parents, it seems we are holding our children to an unBiblical and unOrthodox standard where their faith becomes based upon their merit and baptism or communion are viewed as religious stepping-off points or rites of passage which our kids must work towards as signs they are growing in their "walks" with Jesus. If this is our reality, we are greatly mistaken.
So when will we ever know our kids are saved and they are ripe to take communion and be baptized into their local church? The quick answer is this: You will never really know. And now that I have riveted you with that hope-filled answer, allow me to provide further clarification by giving you a few thoughts as you navigate through this difficult subject:
1. Only God really knows. So let him do His job. He is the author and perfecter of our children's faith (Hebrews 12:2), therefore it is God who alone saves them and it is God alone who knows whom He has saved (Acts 15:8).
2. But we can know too. There are tangible markers that point to a genuine faith of our children (In fact, there are more than a few passages in Scripture that clearly communicate this. See John 13:35 and Galatians 5:22-23).
3. If your child desires to confess, profess, and declare Jesus as Savior, run with it. Contrary to popular westernized-cultural Christianity (AKA, your Sunday school teacher as a kid), there is no secret, magical prayer in which we "ask Jesus into our hearts." The saving work alone belongs to God (Isaiah 43:11). We don't invite Jesus into our hearts. He invites us to come to him (Matt. 11:28). But there is something to be said about a confession from our child's mouth, welling up from a heart that has been granted the faith to trust Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9). Don't overcomplicate this. If your child desires for Jesus to save them, go with it. Celebrate it. Make much of it. And use it as a springboard to a (hopeful) life-long adventure of your child loving Jesus.
4. Since you don't understand everything about God, please don't place this expectation on your child. Often times we expect our children to be able to comprehend and communicate the intricacies of God, the Bible, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. But have you figured it all out yet? Have you arrived? Consider Romans 11:34: "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" Truth is, none of us will ever fully figure out God and His redemptive plan (this side of glory), but does your child have a basic understanding of God's character (i.e. His preeminence, His massivity, His authority, His love, His grace)? And does your child have a basic understanding of their sin and the consequences of their sin (what it is and what it leads to)? Finally, does your child have a basic understanding of their need for a Savior and that their hope can only be in Jesus to save them? Then, they are exactly where God wants them to be. Correct me if I'm wrong but God says a lot about the faith of a child in Scripture (Matt 18:3)?
5. Nothing can ever separate your child from God's love. Call me covenantal, but I wholeheartedly believe that if parents love Jesus, chances are their kids will too (that God's promise to save you and your spouse is also for your children). This is a truism, so it isn't 100% fool proof. But if God has extended his love for you and for your children, nothing can ever get in the way of that; not evil, sin, Satan, death, hell, you, or your children. NOTHING! Whether or not you think your child is "ready" for baptism and communion has no bearing on God's great love for them. But baptism and communion are great opportunities to remind your child of God's great love for them.
Ultimately, since the ordinances/sacraments of baptism and communion are signs, pointing to Jesus' great love for His followers, and saved people participate in them, and if your child has been saved by the grace of Jesus, please let them participate in them if they so desire. Don't hold your child back from obeying Jesus. Encourage obedience and instill in their little life at an early age that doing what Jesus says (namely to "be baptized" and "remember often" Him through the bread and cup) is the most important decision they could ever make.