Monday, April 3, 2017

Whatever became of Jonah?

Whatever became of Jonah?  Or Jacob wrestling with God?  Or Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac?  Or Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego?  Of course, nothing has happened to them or to their stories except that we have not taught them to our children and we have also become strangers to the great stories of the faith.  Whether it is because higher criticism raised questions about their historicity or we did not go to Sunday school all that much or nobody read us any of those stories, the sad truth is that the folks in our pews are more Biblically illiterate than any generation in the last several hundred years.  This despite the fact that books are cheap, videos abound, and our people are a great deal more literate than the typical person hundreds of years ago.  We don't know our history and it has contributed both to our ignorance of Jesus and the ease with which we are carried away by every wind of false doctrine. 

As I contemplate the birth of my first grandchild, this whole subject weighs even more on my shoulders.  As grandparents and as parents we owe our children the favor of telling them the great stories of the Bible.  We owe them a deep and abiding familiarity with the acts of God that prepared the way for Jesus and the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord.  We have a sacred and solemn responsibility to pass on the faith in the deliberate manner of telling these stories of the Bible as much as in the observable character of our faith and piety.

It amazes me how many people under the age of 30 come into my parish with little or no background in Scripture.  They do not know Jesus from Moses and it is not their fault.  They were not raised in the faith and, even if they were taken to church every now and then, they were not given this knowledge.  These are the same parents who made sure they ate organic food, wore clothing not made by children working sweat factories, sat in car seats, had fluoride in their water, did not contribute to global warming, and were raised in politically correct environments that celebrated diversity.  The things of the day are highly visible in their daily lives (and their children see this) but not the things of eternity.

How is it possible that we are so smart about some things and so ignorant about others?  How is it that we insist we need to provide everything from the right food and friends for our children but then leave matters of sin, death, and eternity for them to find out on their own (if they want to)?  How is it that we can be so sensitive to the feelings of those who demand rights, approval, and acceptance but then are insensitive to and offended by the message of forgiveness, life, and salvation in Christ?  Our children deserve better from us as parents, grandparents, and godparents.  They deserve to hear the great history that unfolded according to God's design, flowering into the incarnation of Jesus Christ, His suffering, death, and resurrection, and the mercy that welcomes all.  They deserve to know that their lives are not random or accidental but that they were fearfully and wonderfully made by the God who has prepared for them an everlasting future that death cannot steal.

The longing built within us will find satisfaction somewhere -- unless we as parents, grandparents, and godparents direct it to its right fulfillment, sorry substitutes will be tried and fail our children and leave them broken and wounded.  We were created for God and even sin cannot erase that purpose -- only confound and confuse it.  Teach your children well.  Give them not only a moral foundation but knowledge of who God is by teaching them what God has done -- the ultimate act of God being the gift of His Son. 

7 comments:

David Gray said...

I teach them to my children.

John Joseph Flanagan said...

I personally believe the sermons are too short in many churches. A solid 45 minutes would enable pastors to examine these Old Testament stories and explain their importance to the congregation with clarity. Also, at present many LCMS churches do not have continuous weekly Bible studies, which could be set at Wednesday evenings and include all ages. We will get exactly what we put into it. If we need to find a reason for Biblical ignorance, we need to be honest and clear. On our part, we fall short, as parents fail to discuss the Bible with their children, and the children are not encouraged to learn. We need to focus on "Basic Training" in order to turn raw recruits into spiritual soldiers and warriors.

thedevilcorp said...

For Your Consideration.

Kirk Skeptic said...

But John, if we had a 45' sermon that might exceed thenLord's Hour and infringe on soccer practice

Betty K. said...

I think this is very accurate. And I also think the church is dumbing down all teaching instead of teaching with authority and encouraging the flock to truly consider the deep truths of scripture. With children's education I observe what I think is a very disjointed educational experience. One of our churches did a decent job of using consistent Sunday School materials and taught the great OT stories of faith. Confirmation was pretty good, but after that we switched into having "cool" youth group stuff and students were challenged further. The church we are currently in does a very poor job in children's education. Youth group is always topic oriented, and adult Bible class is for those who know nothing about scripture. It's very disappointing. Our pastor told our husband that we have to keep it simple for those in class not having any background in the faith. The lessons are very ambiguous. Scripture seems to get paraphrased. Little is spent on true discernment of the Word.

Christian P.J. Bahnerth said...

As an 'Octogenarian' (80 - 89) I find that the younger generation has more trouble with lengthy sermons than people of my own age; our problem is often loss of hearing. TV and the abbreviated language use on cell/mobile phones have had a great influence on the impatience with lengthy sermons. The main focus of a sermon should be on explaining the Readings for that day and proclaiming the 'life applications' of the Lesson and the Epistle; if that is a little long, well one has to grin and bear it, however, I do not think that every sermon should be long, it is the content of the sermon that should speak to the Congregation regardless of the length.

Carl Vehse said...

"It amazes me how many people under the age of 30 come into my parish with little or no background in Scripture."

How does one preach to them while at the same time preach to Lutherans in the congregation? It would seem to be like teaching math to children and to college math majors in the same class, where you try to not overwhelm one group and bore the other.