Not quite the same as New Year’s Resolutions, for a body like a church it is essential that we remind one another (at times like this, the beginning of a new year) about our priorities … Why We Do What We Do. This month (January of 2016), God is generously giving us five Sabbaths, so I will hold up for attention our priorities of ministering to children, defending human life, pursuing holiness together, holding up the word of God, and spreading the gospel of God’s grace to the ends of the earth.
Motivating our congregation’s ministry to children this year is nothing ~ except the entirety of Scripture! Jesus refers to the Old Testament as “the law, prophets, and Psalms” … all of which teach us to care about the spiritual education of our children. The New Testament (as Gospels, history, and epistles) continues that same theme.
- Do you know why God chose Abraham? Genesis 18:19 ~ For I have chosen [Abraham], in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.
- Concerning “the Law,” what is the first commandment with a promise? Exodus 20:12 ~ Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. And haven’t we seen the hard side of this promise … how a nation with disorderly families cannot prosper or even live?!
- What was the first Scripture portion which a Hebrew toddler memorized? The Shema (in Deuteronomy 6): Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! Love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. Teach these words diligently to your children and talk about them as you sit down and rise up.
- The psalmist chimes in on the theme of God’s great blessing of children (in the midst of pagans who were glad enough to sacrifice their children to idols). Psalms 127 & 128 remind us poetically that the Lord builds the house (family), that children are His gift, and the fruit of the womb is His reward. Happy is the home with many little olive plants gathered around the family table.
- The Old Testament closes (and I mean, in the very last verse of thousands) promising a Messiah who comes with a ministry of reconciliation, phrased thus: He will restore (bring back together) the (once estranged) hearts of fathers and children (Malachi 4:6).
- So the Messiah comes. And in the Gospels, we see the Promised One calling children to come to Him. Of such is My Kingdom. Matthew 19:14 ~ Do not hinder the children from coming to Me.
- A famous sermon marks the sending of Christ’s Holy Spirit into Christ’s people, their Power to spread His good news into His world. Acts 2:39 ~ The promise is for you and your children and for those far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself. This reminds us of God’s call of Abraham, in terms and means.
So without diminishing our zeal for personal sanctification, and vigorous evangelistic outreach to the lost in our own community, and generous missions the world over … let us resolve (in 2016) to love children well. Specifically, let us bring them before God’s means of grace. And practically:
- Pray daily (for Biblical, four-fold growth: in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God, and in favor with man).
- Speak naturally about the omnipresence of your God and your highest commitment to Him.
- Live credibly, as a Christian investing contra mundum (looking to a different city).
- Confront responsibly, as you interact with your children (and this includes admonition and discipline).
- Give generously to the children’s ministry functions of our congregation, presbytery, and denomination.
- Prompt boldly, calling even the little ones to ponder their specific gifting and future ministry possibilities.
- Educate holistically, showing that (and how) Jesus Christ is the rightful Lord over everything.