How Faith Dies in a Generation (and how to avoid that)

So often a generation of Christians weakly passes on the faith to the next.

In Joshua 2:10-11 we see one such generation “knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.” The saving acts of God were no longer central to them. They had not learned to rejoice in what God had done.

As a result of forgetting the gospel, they “did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals” (2:11). What does God say is evil? Turning to love and serve idols, mini-gods, non-gods.

The word “Baal” is the Canaanite word for “Lord.” This new generation forgot about the Lord and instead served other gods.

It is striking that this happens within a generation. Their parents, though flawed and half-hearted, had faith. They served the Lord. Their children “served the mini-lords.” Who is responsible?

Did the first generation fail to parent properly? Or did the second generation just harden their hearts. Mistakes in one generation are often magnified in the next, nominal one. Commitment is replaced by complacency and then by compromise.

So what needs to be done to pass on faith on to the next generation?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25 tells us what needs to be done.

  1. We ourselves must love God whole-heartedly. Vs. 6, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” That means we are not hypocritical or inconsistent in our behaviors.
  2. We apply the gospel practically. Vs. 7 refers to routine, daily life. Instruction in God’s truth is not the same as a lecture. Rather we “impress” truths about God by showing how God relates to daily life.
  3. Vs. 20-25 tells us that we are to link the truths of the faith to God’s actions in our living. We are to give personal testimony to the difference God made to us. We are not to speak of beliefs and behavior but of our personal experience with God. We are to be open about our own struggles to grow. We are to be transparent about how repentance works in our lives.

We must be consistent in behavior, wise about reality, and warmly personal in our faith.

Us to God: “I can’t.” God to Us: “You won’t.”

Sometimes we say, “I can’t!” to God when He really sees our effort and says, “You won’t.”

In Judges 1:19 it says that Israelites “were unable” but in 2:2 God contradicts that claim and say, “You won’t.”

Israel’s failure to obey God was based on flimsy excuses, not the valid reasons they conjured up.

3 General categories of “can’t” justifications for disobedience:

  1. Forgiveness. “I can’t forgive him.” Yet God commands forgiveness (Matthew 18:35).
  2. Some truth telling. “I can’t tell him the truth. It would destroy him.” Yet God tells us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15, 25). What we really mean is: “If I tell him, he may not like me anymore. he would be upset. I won’t risk that cost–I would rather disobey.”
  3. Temptation. “I can’t resist doing this though I know it’s wrong.” Sin has addictive power–it is true that we may not be able, through sheer willpower, to stop doing something by ourselves. But we can get help. God always gives us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).

 

Better or Broken?

We think that the progress of society somehow means better–better me, better you, better job.  But even with all that society can accomplish, we can’t seem to solve the big problems facing humanity.  We can genetically modify seeds to produce endless amounts of corn, yet people still die of hunger every day.  We can harvest stem cells and perform embryonic research, but disease continues to ravage humanity.  We can connect with anyone on the planet, but we still suffer from depression and loneliness.  We can amass billions of dollars, yet our cities swell with the homeless and impoverished.  People still murder and get sick and leaves their spouses.  Society could build a tower that reaches the moon if it wanted, but it will never mend all the broken pieces of the human race.

The Supreme Challenge a Man Faces

In generations past a father was judged solely in terms of our ability to provide economically.

Today, being a godly father also means having a close relationship with our children and being actively involved in their lives.

Gallup studied men who had been super successful in exceeding business, financial, and career goals to identify their keys to personal success.  The most essential factor found was the consistent attention they received from their fathers when they were young.

The supreme challenge a man faces is not on the athletic field, not in the boardroom, not in the gym, and not in reviewing his net worth–the greatest challenge a man faces is learning how to be a God-fearing dad for his children.

Dear Couples…

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment; 2 imperfect people can never have a perfect marriage.

God uses the imperfections in each of us to constantly remind us that the true source of joy and satisfaction is not in our spouses but only in Him.

At the same time, it’s not our job to inform our spouses about every blunder we find in every situation.  When we find fault in something our spouse has done, we are usually adding a negative element to our relationships.

The dominant response to consistent criticism will ultimately cause the other person’s personality to close up and go silent.  There needs to be twice as much affirmation as criticism.  At LEAST!

Jennifer and I are very different.  But “imperfect Marcus” gets to celebrate with “imperfect Jennifer” our common love for the “perfect Christ.”