Our Children Are Like Sheep Sent Out to Raid the Wolves

This is why many Christian parents feel that exposing their kids to any popular culture will also expose them to many evils: unbiblical worldviews, sexual imagery, exploitative violence, and ideas designed to undermine the family and undermine their children’s faith. As parents, we may fear that these wolves will prey on the little lambs under our protection. We may feel we must constantly beat back the wolves. Or we might try to ignore these threats, just teach and live out the gospel, and hope our children will learn to stay true to Jesus despite the wolves.

Jesus had quite a different response to a hostile culture: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Jesus intentionally sent his disciples into wolfish territory to heal and bring good news. Jesus also prayed for his disciples in John 17:18: “Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world” (NLT). Jesus’s response to a hostile world was not to withdraw in self-protection but to serve as a missionary and train his disciples to do the same. In Jesus’s mind, the sheep aren’t victims; they’re the raiding party.

The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon put it this way: “The wolf leaps into the midst of a flock and rips and tears on every side. It matters not how many the sheep may be, for one wolf is more than a match for a thousand sheep. But lo, here you see sheep sent forth among the wolves, as if they were the attacking party and were bent upon putting down their terrible enemies! It is a novel sight, such as nature can nevershow, but grace is full of marvels!”

Do we have this confidence? Can we train our children to be fully committed to the gospel in dovelike simplicity while also being wise as serpents, familiar with the ways of their neighbors’ culture? We believe that as God’s people, working out the gospel, we can.

To be sure, all these shows, movies, games, and songs that reflect the cultures of our lands often appear like terrifying wolves. But in Christ, we need not fear them. If we are willing to engage this world with our children, using God’s gifts—his Spirit, his Word, and his church—we can equip our children to grow into this maturity. The mission Jesus gave his disciples is our mission today, and it also belongs to our children. If we wish to train our children for a disciple’s life beyond the shelter we provide, we should start now. You can teach your children wisdom to prepare them for a lifetime of wolf-wrangling.