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Deuteronomy 6

All of us want our own children to be prepared to live as disciples for Christ. The church takes young people there by paying attention to words in Deuteronomy that Jesus regarded as the greatest commandment:

I have thought about my own children ...

When it comes to loving God with all their mind, I want them to be able to ask the right questions even more than I want them to be able to give the right answers, because I know that they will still be growing in Christian maturity all of their lives. I want them to challenge the world around them in Christ’s name and not just be challenged by the world around them. I want them to already have a faith in Christ that isn’t simply a repetition of what they have been told to believe.

When it comes to loving God with all their heart, I want them to have passion for worshipping God, in all the ways that such worship takes shape for them. I want them to have compassion for those whom God loves. I want them to love their neighbors as themselves. I want them to know the stories of people who have made good choices, bad choices, and have a testimony about those choices.

When it comes to loving God with all their soul, I want them to have an awareness of how much God loves them and what that love means. I want them to regard the world around them as more than a material world. I want them to have a sense of how they can spend their life for Christ in any profession, in any culture, in any circumstance. I hope that along the way, they will have the benefit of spending time with mature Christian who will show them that redemption, forgiveness, salvation, worship, hope, and prayer are not just something to understand, but something that we live.

When it comes to loving God with all their strength, I want them to know that God loved us enough to come in the flesh and not just shout at us from heaven. I want them to know that God would have us use the strength and health we have to serve him and serve others. I want them to learn about God and learn from Christ by going places, doing great things in his name, and being in the presence of others who can model morality, service, and spirituality.

All the literature and credible studies continue to affirm that parents make the greatest spiritual impact on their children. However, parents are not the only ones that make an impact. Like most parents, I would welcome the assistance and support of a community of faith that encourages my children to be well-formed disciples of Jesus. I would welcome the benefit and the blessing of a church family that does not in any way hinder or quench the spirit of my children. I would welcome the support of a church family that helps me to raise my children. I would welcome the love of a church family that receives my children as members in Christ.

If I want this for my children, then I imagine that others also want something like this.

I want what God thinks best and I see that ever since the time of Moses there has been a concern for parents and the people of God to impress faith on our children ...

The Vision of Deuteronomy 6

  1. What is your vision for “our” children? When our church family takes the time to bless an infant and the parents and grandparents of that child – did you know that we are casting a vision? Did you know that we are setting a standard? When we salute 7th graders who’ve reached a transitional moment in life – when we celebrate with all of our children who promote to the next grade – did you know that we are casting a vision? When we bless our very grown up, yet so very young seniors – did you know that we’re casting a vision?

    We should be very aware of the vision we are casting, not just with our children, but with all children. This godly vision of loving God with all of one’s heart, soul, strength and mind does not come automatically. Without all generations nurturing that vision, we will default to the vision that our culture supplies ...

    Culture’s vision seems fine – sort of benign – yet ...

    The culture’s vision for our children seems fine, but it is thin. It is artificial. Many Christian parents buy into this cheap imitation and then frustrate themselves trying to baptize it in God’s spirit.

    Beware: The cultural lie that we’ve accepted is that we can live through our children. (Vicarious Living) Wrong! God must live through our children. That shouldn’t be a problem if our hope and trust for eternity is in Christ and not our kids. The children are not our future.

    Let’s “hear” Israel. Let’s hear church – so that we can see God’s vision.

  2. Does this apply to you? No generation, no matter how old, can ever say, “We’ve raised our children – our duties are over.”
    The excuses of the elderly – (Deuteronomy has a vision of 3 generations)

    Listen up Israel – Listen up church: “you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live.”

  3. Will we live out this charge? Deuteronomy 6 doesn’t give the church another program. The solution isn’t curriculum or education ministry. What it proposes is a way of life.

    “You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly ... when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands -- wear them on your forehead -- Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

The ceremonies – Baby Blessing, 7th Graders, Seniors: Behind all of these are day to day commitments. Things that cannot be seen: The investment of hours and years – the lessons taught by example, the example of parents, grandparents, friends, uncles and aunts and Mr. and Mrs. “someone.”
It represents in ceremonial fashion a way of life ...

Is this worth it? You bet. This isn’t extra time – this is the real work. This isn’t special worship – it is THE worship.

I’ve noticed that we’ve been dismissing or disregarding the baptism in our children, citing that it isn’t true bona-fide evangelism. I disagree, especially when more than half of our own children are in danger of losing their faith. When some parents feel the pain of an adult child who has never made a commitment to Christ, how dare we say it doesn’t count when a teen puts on Christ in baptism.

Let’s not dismiss it when we baptize our own children.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 23 May 2010

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