In only four short years our son will turn 18; I will be the father of my first adult child. Early parenthood is largely occupied with keeping our kids alive and healthy. We switch gears in the school years, focusing on preparing our children with knowledge, skills and experiences to help ensure future prosperity. Jesus posed a provocative business-minded question: What’s the profit in gaining everything the world offers only to lose your soul? How confident can we be that we are imparting “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” to future generations?
As people of the Kingdom of God, we live in the present confidence of what Jesus has accomplished in the past (1 Corinthians 6:11), yet with the expectation of a future renewal of all things (2 Timothy 4:1). It is in this in-between time that we are living our lives by emulating Jesus, and nurturing and building up those around us in the faith. And times are tough. I will resist the urge to delineate the issues that we and the younger generations in our church family face on a daily basis. The pressure is strong to be silent, to conform, to approve evil, to be “private” in our beliefs. Without constant power to live transformed lives we will slowly coast to a stop.
At the same time, times have always been tough. In our cultural and historical moment, we now have a unique opportunity to reveal the beauty in the face of Christ by our commitment to living, speaking, and thinking in partnership with the rescuing love of God in Christ Jesus.
Attempts to shield ourselves, or others in our care, from the temptations and dangers of a world pattern contrary to God’s kingdom (1 John 2:15-17) are naive and impossible. But we can be wise. We can continually receive and impart spiritual power by learning and teaching dynamic understanding of the grand story of the God who entered into human history to rescue his rebellious creatures at great cost. We can daily demonstrate that this rescuing King has won our total allegiance; he is more important than a job, a 401K, retirement, a doctorate or public acclaim.
We can do these things, but not on our own power. We can do these things, but only when, with the help of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, we humbly let God evaluate our value system and accept his gentle correction. There is no more powerful evidence of the truth of the gospel than a transformed life.
Action Step: Evaluation
Self evaluation is an important component of the Christian life (1 Corinthians 11:28, 2 Corinthians 13:5). Empowered by God’s word our heart can be laid bare, our true intentions revealed (Hebrews 4:12). Below are some areas that you and your spouse may want to pray through and discuss together. Whether you feel encouragement or conviction from your responses, thank God for revealing this to you and ask for grace in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
- Time Compare the time allotted to personal/ family bible study, prayer, gospel conversation and service to time spent on school, work, sports, and entertainment.
- Heart Based on your expenditure of time and money, what things do you value? How do these square with the values of Jesus’ Kingdom?
- Community Do you value caring for the church family as a family?
- Hospitality Do you welcome others into your life, seeking to serve them with all the gifts you/your family has been equipped to share?
- Joy Are you joyful in the hope and confidence you have as a child of God through what Jesus accomplished on your behalf? Do you invite others into that joy?
- Future plans When you think about your desires for your future, do your plans sound like things Jesus would smile on? Do you have expectations of others that are not gospel issues?
- Maturity Are you maturing in faith? Do you see more spiritual fruit today than last year? Do you feel competent to teach the truths of God’s word?(Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 2 Peter 1:5-8, Hebrews 5:11-12).
Author: Nathan Baird, VBC Pastor to Children & Families