Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Family tradition

"Cornelius was saved, and his entire household with him" (Acts 10). Luke also reports that a jailer's family became Christ-followers when the jailer did (Acts 16). 

Reading that made me think about the difficulty in passing faith to the next generation. I remember praying fervently each time I was pregnant: "Dear God! Please let this child serve you with all her/his heart. I would rather you take this child away than let her/him be born to serve the Enemy of our souls." Fanatical? No, but I was setting my priorities as a mother firmly in my heart before meeting and falling in love with a son or daughter.

In the Old Testament, Abraham does okay. His tribe gets his vision and in spite of a slow learning curve, pass along the faith of their Patriarch.

In contrast, the Bible never glosses over the ungodly lives of children whose fathers are godly leaders. Most of the kids feel entitled to their father's status and family privileges. Their characters are stunted and they don't accomplish much.

Adam's oldest becomes a murderer. Moses goes outside the family to mentor Joshua to lead Israel, rather than than training his own half-Midianite sons. Aaron's children die for their flagrant disobedience. Eli's and Samuel's sons are disrespectful of the priesthood and unworthy to carry on their fathers' roles. Solomon initially has the heart of his father David, but uses the privileges of royalty to live a life of dissipation. David's other sons are rebels or nobodies, who fade into history.

We don't read that any Old Testament prophets' sons continue their fathers' ministries or promoted God's ways. Even the New Testament apostles have no descendants who stand out in the early Church.

In American culture, where many Christians' family lives revolve around children's sports, education, music lessons, and other hobbies, are we doing a better job? Are we raising our children to become part of the Church? Are the children of our pastors, Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, or worship leaders preparing to serve God with a double portion of the Spirit (like Elisha asked of Elijah - 2 Kings 2:9)?

In  the Old Testament, the Spirit descends temporarily on an individual who may speak for God (priests, prophets, and kings). In contrast, at Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes to empower every believer to serve daily in the power of the Spirit. Do our children understand that it is not enough to have a father and mother who love God and have accepted his lordship? Have they also received the Spirit's power to proclaim the gospel?

If so, thanks be to God! If not, how can we train the next generation in God's ways, growing them beyond self-centered self-promotion to sacrifice and obedience for the Kingdom's sake? 

Your suggestions and observations, please! 

Read more: 
*Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.... Deuteronomy 7:9 NET

*Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. Proverbs 3:13-18 NIV

*"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30 NEV

No comments:

Post a Comment