Knowing God’s word
A couple months ago, I got a phone call at 2:23 a.m. in the morning. A call at that time is seldom good news. This one couldn’t have been better.
“Hello Pastor Scharf!” said the excited voice said. “This is Leo.” And even though it had been nearly five years, and even though I was still shaking sleep off, I couldn’t help but recognize that young man’s voice — so full of energy. He was calling from Benin, Africa.
You see, now a teenager, this young man was calling because he wanted to have a church in his home country that taught the truth as he had come to know it — and he hadn’t found it yet.
You see, Leo had been brought to Abiding Grace by a friend about seven years ago — and from that day on — he didn’t miss. He had someone pick him up any time anything was going on at church. He couldn’t have been more than 10 or 11 years old. But he learned his stuff from his Sunday school teachers and VBS teachers and even from worship. He knew the truth — so much so that he could tell when he wasn’t getting it.
Or I could talk about the children who came to VBS eight years ago, which was really their only connection to any church of any sort. Then, just this last year, when their dad told them the family needed to make a change in their lives — it was these children, now teenagers, who said they needed to come to church that Sunday. And they did. And not too long after that, the whole family was baptized.
It’s amazing what children pick up, isn’t it? The Proverb says, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (22:6). The Psalm we focus on today (Psalm 78) is some encouragement from a man of God for you:
“O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth…I will utter hidden things, things from of old — what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next gen- eration the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done…which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds.”
Do you see how important it is to bring your children up in God’s word? I know…it’s popular to “let the kids decide for themselves when they’re old enough.” I wonder if you have that same attitude about brushing their teeth or bedtimes. You see, by nature, we won’t “decide for ourselves” the way of God. God’s word says it, “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Romans 8:7). By nature we want to go God’s way less than we want to floss our teeth.
You’d never think about letting your children set their own menu of nothing but candy and junk food to put into their body. Please don’t let your negligence set for them a spiritual menu of nothing but selfishness (all the commercials and examples they see) and humanism (the world’s reason for doing good — which ultimately comes back to selfishness).
What am I saying? Parents, you have a responsibility. Tell your children about Jesus. Even though you think they’ve heard it before, tell them again. Tell them about God’s love that saw our need and sacrificed his son. Tell them about our savior who took our place and wiped away our sin. Tell them about God’s love shown to us in a million different ways — and recorded for us so wonderfully in scripture.
And as you do all that — take advantage of your church to help you in that important task. This week, at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday, we start a new year of Sunday school. At 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, our Middle School Confirmation Class begins. We’d love to have your children there. Why not start now? Your children need it. And who knows what amazing things God will do for them? Maybe they’ll be the next children helping their parents in their relationship with the Lord. Maybe they’ll be Leo, who, now as a teenager, is in contact with our Synod’s Board for World Missions about bringing the truth to his part of the world.
I know, “They’re just children. What can they do?” Wrong question. What can God do through them? The answer to that is infinite. Bring them up in God’s word and let’s have fun watching.
May God bless you as you embrace this amazing responsibility. In Christ,
Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday is at 10:30 a.m. Full sermons and more information can be found at abidinggrace.com.