Written by Theresa Peters
You know the struggle, parents. High school years are a tough balancing act between supporting independence and keeping the reins! The teen years are a crucial period in a young person's life where they begin to form their identity, beliefs, and worldview—a scary time for parents! It is a time when individuals are exposed to a variety of perspectives, ideologies, and influences that can shape their understanding of the world.
As Christians, it is essential for us to protect our Biblical worldview amidst these challenges. Just as a soldier wears armour to defend themselves in battle, we too can equip ourselves with the spiritual armour to safeguard our faith and preserve our Christian perspective and train our teens to do the same. Thankfully, we can use the spiritual armour of Ephesians 6 to train and protect our worldview during these years.
The Belt of Truth
The first piece of the spiritual armour is the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14). In the face of competing worldviews and diverse opinions, it is crucial to ground ourselves in the truth of God's Word. By studying and understanding the Bible, we can develop a firm foundation for our beliefs. This allows us to discern falsehood from truth, giving us the ability to defend our worldview confidently. It is not enough to have a verse in our back pocket to defend an idea or belief we have. Our Christian beliefs must hold true in the face of the entire canon of Scripture and must be read in context. Truth is not such an easy thing to define, but it is the truth of God’s unerring Word that must be our bedrock while searching for truth.
Truth! That is a loaded word these days. The word truth has had its meaning stolen. It is no longer “the truth” but “my truth” that is spoken of, but logic dictates that this is just not a possibility! Logically speaking, it is not possible for each individual belief to be factual.
If I am eating a sausage, it does not matter if I believe it to be fish. The problem with worldview and spiritual beliefs are they are unprovable in this earthly world. So how do we know what truth is?
The high school years are scary ones for parents, the years when students dig deep and ask themselves the hard questions. These are the years to keep your communication lines open, ask lots of questions, and help to guide their decision making without dictating their beliefs. In the end, each of us must choose Christ for ourselves. As you navigate these years, your own faith will be challenged—you will have to choose to rely on your trust in God’s plan and purpose for your child. You will have to be willing to lay down your child on the altar, as Abraham did, trusting that He will raise him or her up to newness of life.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
God’s Word tells us that we are to “Watch over [our] heart with diligence, for from it flows the springs of life” (Prov 4:23 NASB). It is the breastplate of righteousness that protects our hearts. It is interesting that though the breastplate is a piece of defensive armour, it is in living out our lives in obedience to God’s commands and living a life of righteousness that our hearts are guarded!
High school can be a challenging environment, filled with moral dilemmas and temptations. Psalm 1 is a fitting passage to describe the way of a righteous person (teen or not). We are to keep out of the way of wickedness and “walk not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers” (Ps 1:1 NASB). Our heart is to “delight in the Law of the Lord,” and in this way we will bear fruit. This is good advice for teens looking to keep their breastplate of righteousness secure to protect their heart. By upholding moral integrity and striving to live righteously, they can safeguard their Christian worldview against compromise and maintain their witness as followers of Christ.
The Gospel of Peace
In Ephesians 6:15, the apostle Paul refers to the armour that is "strapped on your feet—the preparation of the gospel of peace." As high school students, teens have the opportunity to share the message of Christ's love and salvation with their peers. Once again, though, we return to the need to know the Word of God! On our feet we have shoes—the preparation of the gospel of peace—we must be prepared to share! It is vital that by the high school years, our teens are adequately prepared with the message and able to live out that preparedness by actively engaging in sharing the gospel. This will not only strengthen their own faith but also create a space for dialogue, helping others understand our worldview.
Speaking of dialogue, what does it look like to share this gospel of peace? Our world tells us we must be tolerant. The definition of tolerance is the “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practice differing from or conflicting with one’s own” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). By definition then, tolerance means that as Christians we should also be tolerated. Whatever society believes, however, is irrelevant as we have a command to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). As Christians, we can go out confidently and share our message of truth in love without compromise, but we must be sure to share a well-prepared message for it is the preparedness to share that is our armour.
The Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:16)
The shield of faith is crucial in protecting our Christian worldview. Often when we speak of worldview building, we talk about logical reasoning and persuasion. These are of great value, but you will notice here that our shield is not logic or earthly wisdom. It is faith. At one point or another, each of us has to come to God relying on faith and not on our own thoughts and reasoning, and our teens are no different. They must actively choose to place their faith in Christ, and faith is belief in the unprovable.
High school can present challenges to our teens’ faith at a time when they are developing their personal beliefs. They will be confronted with self-helpism, naturalism, skepticism, postmodernism, moral relativism, emotionalism, pluralism, mysticism, agnosticism, and atheism! Secular philosophies abound. “Our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and he does not care by what route he misleads our youth!
Faith alone will bring us to Christ, and faith is what is needed to stand firm in the face of questions that our teen cannot answer. By nurturing their faith through prayer, studying the Bible, and fellowship with other believers, teens can strengthen their shield and extinguish the fiery arrows of doubt that aim to undermine their beliefs.
The Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17)
The helmet of salvation guards our minds and protects us from destructive thoughts and influences. In the previous section is a list of secular ideologies that are competing to mislead youth (and adults). In the high school years, teens will, most assuredly, encounter teachings that contradict our Biblical worldview. We cannot seek to shelter them from every false doctrine, but we can train them to keep their helmet of salvation secure to protect their mind and thoughts. Teens need opportunities to become skilled in this type of warfare and what better place than a supportive home environment.
This is where the living and active word of God (Hebrews 4:12) comes into action! All the verses your child learned, all the sermons and all the training they have had will be activated by God when it is most needed. In addition, we can train our thoughts to run the paths of God’s words to continually renew our minds with the truth of God's salvation. God’s Word will guard our teen’s thoughts as they grow. As your teen is faced with competing worldviews and practices their critical thinking skills to replace lies, they become stronger in their faith, and their salvation is protected.
The Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17)
What a sword we have but, like any weapon, it is not very useful if you do not know how to use it! Thankfully though, God’s Word is unlike earthly weapons for we do not wield it alone. Hebrews 4:12 tells us:
“For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
God’s Word has a mind of its own—God’s mind—so we need never be afraid that it will not be effective; however, it is important to be prepared. (Remember the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace?) We cannot use portions of Scripture that we do not know.
Through studying, meditating, and memorizing Scripture, we equip ourselves and train our teen with an offensive weapon to combat false teachings and defend our faith. When our teen is well equipped with God’s Word, he or she can stand firm and face the onslaught of the enemy. The Bible is a source of wisdom, guidance, and answers to the questions that our teens will encounter in high school years and beyond, and it will not leave them undefended.
As parents of high school students, teaching them to protect their worldview is intricately entwined in protecting our own. It is by the example we set that our teens will see the absolute truth and reliability of Scripture, the faith to protect against doubt, the strength to live a righteous life, an active thought and Scripture meditation pattern to protect our minds, and the ability to use Scripture to both share the gospel and mount an offensive attack on the enemy.
Using the armour of God and teaching it to our teens requires intentional effort and reliance on the Spirit of God daily. By embracing the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, our teens can navigate the challenges of high school while staying true to our Christian beliefs. Let us remember that our ultimate strength lies in our relationship with God, who empowers us to stand firm in the face of adversity. May we be courageous ambassadors of Christ, boldly living out our faith in an ever hostile world.
Theresa is your language arts mentor with Discern To Learn where students learn to ask hard questions, dream big, and prepare to succeed in the real world by becoming critical thinkers, persuasive writers, and confident speakers. Learn more at www.DiscernToLearn.com.