I think, in many ways, we’re raising a generation of cowards in the church, while at the same time, delivering mixed messages. We send our kids to school, we make them groom, we make them (maybe) do chores and jobs around the house, some of us make our kids do sports, but when it comes to Church, we make it mostly optional. Sometimes we take them on Sundays, but we don’t make it a priority the rest of the week. We make it optional, and so the kids grow up thinking that church is optional. Instead of being the Church, we’re training them to go to Church.
Now, I get it. Sometimes we can’t go ourselves, so we feel like Hypocrites if we make them go when we don’t. Or, we feel some sense of guilt for making them go. But we make them go to lots of things: school, family events, shopping trips, and more. To give a little perspective, here’s an example from my life. Within the last 6 months, we began a family Bible Study. It’s mandatory, and we do it nearly every day. At first, my wife and I had a disagreement on it, but I was sort of at my wits end. My youngest showed indifference to God and to Church, and to anything to do with it, he, frankly, treated it all as a joke, and whenever I talked to him about faith, my wife and I would disagree on whether or not I was laying it on thick.
So we tried something different. As a family, we had a mandatory Bible study. We sit around the table, all in the same chapter and verse, and we read a small section at a time, and discuss what we read. 6 months (or so) into it, my youngest decided to follow Jesus and felt the need to be a son of God. This morning, I got up and took my Bible and sat on the Couch. What did my youngest do? He got his brand new Bible, and sat down next to me, opened it up, and read it quietly to himself. My wife and I, together, decided to do the hard stuff. We decided to integrate our faith into every thing we do, and make sure it was the greatest priority in our home. We made them participate, and, on their own, the kids read their Bibles, and get involved with Church stuff, coming home to report on what is said and done. They actively share their faith (and, yes, see a bit of persecution from their peers for it). They are becoming more bold in their faith because we’re active in it together.
We (the church) need to get our priorities in order. This life and all it offers is temporary. Time is short. Eternity is a long time, and I would hate for anyone to be dismissed from Eternity with Jesus.
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.
“You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has promised.
“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’