Joel 1:3 - Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (New International Version 1984)
It is often said that Christianity is one generation from extinction and I believe that is true. One of the first things hostile governments towards Christianity do is place a ban on giving religious instruction to adults and teenagers. Their reasoning is obvious. The youth are more likely to embrace an idea than those who are more settled in their ways. This is not merely true in regards to Christianity. There is a reason political parties strive to influence the youth. You want to teach/influence people when they are young for it is during that time that most of our character, attitudes and philosophies are formed which will influence us for the rest of our lives. While we are not necessarily locked into them it becomes harder to change them with each passing year.
I remember my freshman year at a Christian college in the late 1970's. Most of my classmates had grown-up in Christian families and had attended church and Sunday School all of their lives. As I sat in my Old and New Testament classes, I was shocked at how ignorant so many of my peers were and I was very thankful that although my father had not been a Christian, my mother and my grandmother took my "Christian education" quite seriously. Although they both were active in church work, particularly in what we now refer to as "children's ministries", they did not restrict my Christian education to Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. It was their responsibility to see to it that I was instructed in the ways of the Lord and could eventually teach others as well. The church merely aided them in doing so. It was not a substitute for their instruction. It was a supplement.
When teaching our children, it is critical that we not merely tell them stories from the Bible or have them memorize verses. We must do what educators call "make connections" between the text and how it is relevant to their lives. We remember stories. When my son was growing up and talking to me about a particular situation, I was thankful that I could turn to God's Word and give examples of people who had been in the same or similar position. I could then connect my own experiences to theirs and in turn, connect mine to his thereby causing him to discover that the Word of God really was relevant for him right now... today.
Less than a year ago, I watched my son and daughter-in-law go through an extremely difficult time in their lives. My husband and I watched and prayed as our son desperately clung to God. He had seen us cling to God over the years. Now he was doing the same. He had learned as a child that God was faithful and now those lessons were being tested when he was a man.
We must be diligent about instructing our children in the ways of the Lord. We must be diligent about sharing with them our own stories of what God does in our own lives, not just in the past but now. Joel 1:3 is not a suggestion. It is a command. Are we doing it?
Thank you for this blog K.
You know, I wanted to write on this verse myself, but don't think there's any improvement to be made on what you've said about it
My son goes to a multicultural school, which is non-denominational. They do learn about religion ... all religions.
In ways, I think this is a good thing. When he talks to non-Christians about God, he will do so with a knowledge of their beliefs. Besides, as you and the verse from Joel say, the main responsibility for a child's Christian education should fall to parents. Not to say it's easy. But we'll get there, with the Lord's help.
Blessings - and thanks for the tips,
Great word and how true. As years pass, if not firmly taught and rooted in The Lord, I've seen more people abandon faith in Christ and His work on the cross ... than those who come as older though the Lord still is mighty to save. People grow older, rationalization away the gospel. They no longer have faith as a child.
Most importantly as you pointed so adeptly, the corporate body is not responsible to train up a child in the way they are to go. They help reaffirm and allow for relationship building to edify and encourage; spurring on to love and good works in Christ Jesus. The corporate gathering and even "Christian" schools are NOT a substitute for the life of God to be lived and walked out in the Spirit in front of our children through us.
The example of your son was marvelous! Thanks for sharing such wonderful insight.