The next generation....
If you read the book of Judges you will note that from the time Joshua led the Israelites out of the wilderness until the time he died, Israel was one nation under God: obedient and blessed. No nation or army could stand against them. Then Joshua died but those of his generation lived on a few more years, and the nation of Israel still flourished.
But then the last one’s that knew Joshua, or had been in the wilderness, passed away and the new generation knew neither Joshua or God. In one generation the Hebrews turned away from God. It’s only two pages in the Bible, but of course it represents more like 40 or 50 years-a “generation”.
One wonders: How could they be so blind? God’s protection and deliverance were recorded for their posterity—for their benefit. The laws of God and His instructions were recorded to warn them about what would happen if they failed to obey and follow God—in fact more was recorded to warn them of the dangers of disobeying than the words to remind them of how He would bless them if they did obey! Their parents even set up stone markers as reminders, and they still had the ark of the covenant to keep them aware of God and His laws.
But they had not seen the miracles with their own eyes. They had not suffered and experienced the consequences of going down the wrong road. They had it rather soft. They had no first hand knowledge of the Holy One and they quickly drifted away when those with a first-hand encounter died. In short, they did not love God like their parents did and did not know him.
Now the big question for me: As a parent, am I passing on my knowledge and intimacy of Him to the next generation. More importantly, do they see what I do as an expression of that primary love for Him? Am I representing and instructing my boys and the children and youth I help to come to know Him firsthand? As Oswald Chambers wrote, the bedrock, or foundation of Christianity is a personal, passionate devotion to the Lord Jesus. If that foundation is weak, the house will fall.
The defining failure of the mainline churches today, in my opinion, is that we have devoted and passed on to youth pastors, weekend retreats, Sunday school or Christian camps that which the Christian mothers and fathers should have been doing all along——i.e. raising their own children to follow their example of an abandoned love and devotion to Jesus.
What can happen in forty years??? The certain decline and elimination of Christianity in America if we don’t get serious. Just as in Israel the next generation could turn their backs on God and follow the example of godless popular celebrities of movie stars, attention greedy professional sport figures , or simply turn to narcissistic agnosticism. Look at Europe…. look at the primary Protestant Churches….look at (can I say it?) the YMCA or other non-profits that began as ministries devoted to the salvation of souls and are now primarily fund-raising entities and secondarily “Christian” in focus and theme.
What about the next forty years???
Our nation and the next generation will become apostate or atheist unless we somehow pass on to our young people a have a first hand encounter with Him! Our intimacy with Him cannot be passed on genetically and it is not absorbed spiritually! It must be experienced.
Am I living for Jesus in such an obvious, and if you well, “reckless” and extravagant way that my boys yearn for a similar relationship with Him that they are spiritually envious? And am I perhaps so focused on keeping them happy and “in love with me” that I never show and enforce God’s standards for right and wrong?
May God bless this generation with whatever is required to keep their eyes on God and their hearts tethered to Jesus Christ.