In our busy Mormon homes, we struggle to find time to teach the Gospel to our children, and when we do have time, we often stress the commandments and the standards and the rules. Sometimes we get to the Book of Mormon and the Restoration and the Prophet Joseph Smith.
The question is, do we get to the center, to the source, to the heart, to the Savior himself?
You may have heard the story about the father who saw his daughter trying to put together a very complex jigsaw puzzle of a detailed and complicated painting. Not wanting the child to become discouraged, he said “Honey, that is a very, very hard puzzle. You might want to start with an easier one.”
The dad went about his business for a while and then came back into the room where the child was playing and, to his amazement, saw that the puzzle was completely assembled. “I must really have a prodigy here,” he thought to himself, “this girl is more brilliant than I had realized!”
“How did you do it?” he asked her. “Well Dad,” she said, “I happened to turn some of the pieces over and saw that there was something on the other side that was much simpler. It was a drawing of a man, and when I got it together I just turned it over and everything on the other side was put together too.”
The Gospel is like that. It can seem incredibly complex when we think of all the scriptures, all the commandments, all the principles and ordinances and teachings. Yet if we concentrate and on Christ himself, on knowing about Him and about His life, and put our focus on His example and His atoning sacrifice for us, we find that we are putting the Gospel together inside ourselves at the same time.
And certainly the same is true for our children. If we aim always at the commandments and guidelines and requirements kids may not only feel lectured to but also a bit overwhelmed. If our focus is the Lord himself and how He lived and taught, there is a wonderful spirit of simplicity and joy that can enter our children’s hearts.
As members of the Church, we have the restoration’s added knowledge of Christ as well as the truths of traditional Christianity to teach to our children—and there is nothing in the world that is more important for them to learn.
We can teach them about Jesus’s premortal roles as elder brother and presenter and implementer of God’s mortal plan; we can teach them about Him as the Creator and as Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament; we can teach them about Him as one distinct and separate member of the Godhead; we can teach them about Him as the Lord who taught the Nephites and the dead who now reside in the spirit world, and we can teach them about Him as our advocate with the Father and ultimately as our judge.
We can teach all these additions of the restoration in addition to all that Christians everywhere teach from the beautiful New Testament. And we can avoid confusing notions like the Trinity which are parts of the Apostasy rather than of the Gospel.
It is wonderful to think of the Restoration not only as the revealer of truths that were lost, but as the corrector of errors in thinking that began in the Dark Ages and survived the Reformation. The Gospel is made more logical and believable by knowing (and teaching our children) that Christ did not come only to one people in one part of the earth and that He did not leave the forming of His Church to Popes and reformers who would come later or leave out those who had lived before His coming.
In our efforts as parents, may we remember that the way to teach our children the Gospel is to teach them of Christ. And may we remember for ourselves that the Gospel is the way to Christ, and that He is the end and all else that the Church teaches is the means.
What do you think is the most important thing you can teach your children?
To know all they can about the Church and to follow its Prophets and teachings
To know all they can about Jesus Christ and to follow His example and teachings
Both because they are synonymous
Both because each is incomplete without the other