Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Church's Responsiblity in Training our Children

This writer belongs to an infinitesimal branch of Christianity that keeps the Biblical annual holy days, but we do not keep them the way God commanded, to our shame.

“So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. Assemble the people – men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns – so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

When it comes to training our children in the most important thing – proper respect for the living Word of God -- this is the most important command to the church as a whole! We have not obeyed it – a major reason for the shameful failures of our religious tradition. In neglecting this supremely important command and practice we have followed men following mere natural instincts, and not the Spirit of God.

It is needful for the church to support parents in their spiritual ministry of parenthood and children themselves in their own spiritual struggles. Our responsibility is to help Christ – by our service to Him in serving each other in accordance with His commands and yielding to the influence of the Holy Spirit -- “to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good”. For this very reason He gave himself for us!

Children must be prepared for the day when they will “leave … father and mother” to establish their own families. For this preparation process, God wants strong, committed marriages dedicated to producing godly offspring.

Regarding marriage, Scripture says: “Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel…”

God is seeking godly offspring! We have neglected to give nearly enough attention to this desire of His!

Anything we do to support godliness in marriage is good for children.

With regard to the “sowing and reaping” of our lives, we are enjoined: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

We "do good" in whatever we do to support parents to fulfill the command to raise children “in the training and instruction of the LORD." This includes encouraging children to respect and obey their parents, to cooperate in God’s good purpose for them.

Whatever prayer, encouragement, or teaching we can give to help a father attain the ideal of “with true dignity keeping his children in submission” is part of that good. Paul, Silas and Timothy sum up the ministry of Christian fatherhood: "...we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory"!

In the time of Moses, the nation was the congregation! What I say here is the responsibility of a Christian nation! Christians have not been serving God's commands well ...

Ideas for supporting the ministry of parenthood on the congregational level:

Planning and supporting special events that are wholesome for children such as carefully planned educational events, field trips, parties, etc.

Subsidize church camps and other special wholesome experiences for children.

An increased emphasis in Church libraries on edifying materials for children and to support the ministry of Christian parenthood. Our children are faced with a world overflowing with bad influences. We need to give more attention to specifically addressing and combating them. Middle age children are among the most eager patrons of libraries that include materials tailored to them.

References:

wording of quoted passages from The Holy Bible, New International Version, except as noted otherwise

Leviticus 23:1-44 -- "...the appointed feasts of the LORD..."
Deuteronomy 31:9-13 -- "...you shall read this law before them in their hearing..."
Titus 2:13b-14 -- "...Jesus Christ ... gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness..."
Genesis 2:24 -- "...leave ... father and mother and be united ..." in marriage
Malachi 2:15-16a -- "...he was seeking godly offspring ..."
Galatians 6:10 -- "...do good ... especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
Ephesians 6:4 -- "...bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
Colossians 3:20 -- "Children, obey your parents ... for this pleases the Lord."
1 Timothy 3:4 [Hendriksen] -- "...with true dignity keeping his children in submission..."
Colossians 3:21 -- "Fathers, do not embitter your children ..."
1 Thessalonians 2:l1-2 -- "... encouraging, comforting, and urging you..."

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