A Good Future
“Fathers, bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4
Something encouraging has been happening the last several days. I’ve noticed our church’s next generation blossom in wonderful ways. Their faith as expressed in their confirmation testimonies show a firm grasp of Christian teaching and a conviction to follow their faith in their actions. At the camp some others are attending this week they are demonstrating an understanding of how to apply the Scriptures to real life. Plus during their time together I see that Biblical life lived out with each other.
What I am saying is that God’s Word continues to bear fruit whenever and wherever it is received by open hearts. Each generation of parents may wonder if the next generation is going to continue in the faith that has been passed on. From all indications the parents at Faith don’t have much to worry about in that regard. Of course there is still the immaturity of youth, but that is merely a function of their age. As far as their spirit they seem beyond their years to me.
But that they continue to enjoy the blessings of faith into the future is not automatic. As far as it depends on God, He will never let any of these young people go. But each one can choose later in life to go his own way instead of God’s.
While this is a choice for them, it is one that we parents and grandparents can influence. What are some reliable factors that point to faithful youth continuing to be faithful? High on the list is sincerity in the faith of their parents. When faith helps Mom and Dad make the hard decisions the children take notice. When they sacrifice inconvenience and cash for God the youth notice the seriousness of their faith. When children see that parents consider hearing and reading God’s Word and worshiping with others a high priority then they incorporate faith into their life. When youth experience forgiveness from parents who represent God to them, then they know God’s very own grace in Christ.
In short, while special events and church classes help inform our children’s faith, nothing is quite as effective in influencing it as faithful parents. Fathers, this week would be a good time to reflect on your role as spiritual leader for your children. The best gift to them is not what they can learn to make it in this life, but what they need to make to the next life. Be in their life now while they are open to your influence. Be there in the present to help them in the future.
June 6, 2012
“Lessons from Children’s Chapel”
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
4and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
“Raise your hand if you have ever made a bad choice,” I urged the children as I raised my hand. “You too, Pastor?” one of them asked with surprise. I was telling the story of the prodigal son who was forgiven by his father after he returned from a time of rejecting his father’s authority and making many poor choices. I wanted to explain that Jesus told this story to show us how God forgives our sins when we repent.
Unfortunately, the child had no reason to be surprised that I raised my hand. We all sin, that is, make bad choices. It’s something that we just don’t seem to outgrow. As God’s grace works in our hearts and we feed our spirits with His Word the pull of sin can be weaker. But then pride can slip in if we start thinking we have conquered it. God is more concerned that we know his mercy than that we imagine we have accomplished perfection. Lesson one is that reality demands honesty about our sins. Yes, raise your hand, too.
Lesson two is about the importance of focusing more on God’s mercy than on our duty. I asked another group of children why Jesus told this story. I got many replies about how we should make good choices, obey our parents, and the like. Finally, when I asked what Jesus wants us to know about God, I still got the reply that we obey him. With more pointed questioning I finally heard that God forgives us when we repent. How wonderful to hear of undeserved grace that God showered on us from the cross of Christ! How much better to focus on Him and not on us! It seems that when we quit trying so hard to be good and dwell on His goodness to us, it’s much easier, and more natural, to actually be good, to make better choices.
We’ll continue with “Stories Jesus Told” during the summer in midweek chapel. Who knows what else the children may teach me.