February 26, 2017

Exodus 12:26-27 “And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them.”

A recurring theme throughout the period of the exodus is this matter of communicating faith to the next generation. We have trouble grasping the reality that these people had no Bible at all; they were limited to oral tradition. That made the transmission of these stories a matter of spiritual life or death. Particularly in countries like America we tend to leave the transmission of faith to the professionals, or at least to the Church as an institution. That is a terrible mistake. Many people have a Bible, or even multiple Bibles, that they never read. That does no one any good at all. Recently the matter of what is being taught to our children in public schools has come under scrutiny, with many parents being horrified at what is coming out. We should be at least as concerned with what is being taught our children in church! Many Sunday Schools are fine, I am sure, but the very concept of a Sunday School is nowhere to be found in the Bible. The Biblical pattern is without exception for parents or parent figures to teach children on a personal basis. When that happens, the children turn out well. When it doesn’t, they don’t. The biggest hindrance, in my observation, is the simple matter of time. We get so busy with all our various activities that transmission of faith gets left out in the cold. Of course, the parents themselves need to make their relationship with their Creator a high priority, with consistent devotions and the like, but even then they too often fail to teach their children intentionally, and spiritual growth in the next generation becomes entirely hit-or-miss.

This is a somewhat painful theme on which to write. My parents were some of the finest Christians you could find, but I don’t remember their ever sitting me down to tell me Bible stories. We did have regular family worship, which was excellent on many levels, but they were mired in the institutional model of religion. Since language barriers kept me from active participation in Sunday School at church (in Japanese) my spiritual growth was largely neglected. Even though the Lord brought me into alignment with Him before our second daughter was born, I had only my parents’ example to follow, and I did no better with my children than they had done with us. Now I look at my grandchildren, and because of physical distance, all I can do is pray. As a pastor I am involved in the transmission of faith and spiritual growth for many, but I am acutely aware that the home should be the basis for all of that. Sadly, even Christian parents tend to resent being told that, and blame their children’s lack of spirituality on the church. We are all greatly in need of God’s mercy and grace!

Father, thank You for Your grace that is indeed sufficient for us. Help me operate in and transmit that grace effectively, so that I and those to whom I minister may grow as You intend, escaping the traps of the devil and walking in all that You intend for us, generation to generation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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