Today we live in what is known as a post-modern culture, which is characterized by relativism. Everything is relative. What is true for me may not be true for you. Everyone defines truth for himself or herself. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. This kind of thinking really isn’t all that modern, though.
The book of Judges is one of my favorite books in the Old Testament. Throughout the book we see this vicious cycle of the people sinning against God, being given over to their enemies as a result of their sin, crying out to God, being saved by God, and then the whole thing starts over: “again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” The author of Judges sums up the situation at the end of the book saying, “In those days Israel did not have a king. All the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
How did things get so bad? How did they let things get to this point? “The people served the Lord during the lifetime of Joshua and during the lifetimes of the elders who lived after Joshua and who had seen what great things the Lord had done for Israel . . . . After those people had died, their children grew up and did not know the Lord or what he had done for Israel. So they did what the Lord said was wrong” (Judges 2:7-11).
An entire generation grew up not knowing God or what He had done for them. So, they did what the Lord said was wrong, what was right in their own eyes. The church is facing a similar dilemma today. We may take an honest look at our culture and wonder how things got so bad. Who or what is to blame when one generation fails to value what a previous generation did? Did the first generation fail to reach out or did the second generation harden their hearts. The truth is, it is probably a little bit of both.
A generation grew up who “did not know the Lord.” What’s happening here is not so much a lack of knowledge but a lack of belief. They knew about God but they did not know God. It is not ignorance but unbelief–a deliberate refusal to acknowledge the authority of God.
Discipling the next generation is about more than just getting right information into their heads; it’s about more than getting correct theology into their mind. Our desire is that they would know the Lord, not just know about him.
In Psalm 145:4 David writes, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” David could have said one generation teaches your works to another, but he doesn’t. He says commends or praise. There is more to discipleship than just conveying truth. We are to commend or praise the works of the Lord to the next generation.
There is a difference between what we teach our children and what we are passionate about in front of them. What do our kids see us getting passionate about? They see us getting passionate about a lot of different things – our hobbies, our favorite sports teams, our work. Do our kids see us get passionate about the Lord and knowing Him? Do they see us worship Him? They need to. They need to see this worship happen. And it’s not just parents they need to see this worship from. From oldest to the the youngest generation, these little ones need to see the praise and adoration of the Lord.
So let’s not just preach the truth to our kids, let’s commend it to them. Let’s praise the works of the Lord to the next generation. May the next generation see us worshiping the Lord whom we know and love. And may they grow up not just knowing about the Lord, but that they might actually know Him.
Adam Castenir, Children’s Minister