Inspired by Deuteronomy 12:28-32
“Be careful to obey all these words that I command you today, so that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, because you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 12:28 (NRSV)
During most congregational meetings, when the subject of youth ministry comes up, someone will advocate for the younger members of the congregation with the words, “These kids are the future of our church!” In one sense that’s (hopefully) true, yet it also understates the importance of the kids’ future responsibilities, and ignores the fact that, since they’re here now, they’re also the church’s present.
Our children are not only the future of the church, but the future of the world. As the current adults age and die, the younger generation will take over. That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s the way it always will be. In the meantime, they’re here now, watching us, learning from us. What are we teaching them? How are we teaching them? Are they seeing us live according to our values? Probably. But do our lived values match our stated values? In other words, when we say it’s important to follow God, do our children see us actually following God?
The commands of the Lord are not capricious demands given by an egomaniacal taskmaster. The Lord is a just and loving God, who has given us his Word in order that we may know how to live peacefully and prosperously as a society. Failure to obey that Word brings calamity and strife of our own making. It’s up to us to teach our children not only with our words but with our actions how best to live in the society that they will inherit and shape. Are we teaching them to do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord so that it will go well for them, or are we teaching them to do what is right in their own eyes, and hoping it all works out?
Let us pray. Just God, you have given us your commands that it may go well with us. Help us to teach our children your ways, that it may go well with them, too, as you desire. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.