Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why Fathers should take their families to church: the state of the world and our part in the mess

Looking at the aftermath of the election is more than a little disturbing.  Folks for whom the election did not go their way are protesting in the streets and threatening violence until they get their way, and those for whom the election results were satisfying are gloating.  For a long time, our society has been devolving into a mass of crying, screaming fit-throwers ill-equipped to deal with reality and offer even a small measure of respect to others.  Today we are reaping what has long been sown.

There is a lot of speculation about how this generation has become so entitled and so sensitive – sensitive only to their own demands, not for their “neighbors”.  One person suggested it began when pee-wee teams began giving “participation” trophies to every player.  Many have suggested that we fall all over ourselves to get our children the latest and greatest toys or electronics devices for Christmas, birthdays, or just because they want it.  It does not seem to matter whether we can afford it.  If someone else has the “latest and greatest”, we feel cheated and entitled.

I think maybe the problem goes even deeper.  We always say (and quote the Bible) that this nation needs God.  “Blessed is the nation whose God is The Lord”.  The problem is that too many of those who post this quote on social media are not engaged in the life of the Church.  The popular saying is, “We don’t need to go to church to worship God”. 

Fine.  It is true enough that many church-goers have no real idea why they’re there, and too many others go to church with their own demands and expectations.  It is equally true we Christians are among the world’s great hypocrites.  I freely admit it and own it.  I don’t settle for it; I strive to do better.  And I fail often.  Were it not for the Church, who will hold me accountable for my actions if I am my own “god”, pretending I am my own “church”?  According to biblical standards?  According to Jesus’ teachings?

Here’s the thing.  When we do not take our families to church and teach them why we are there and how to be an active part of it, we teach our children something else without even realizing it.  We are teaching our children that self-pleasure (“hedonism” is the word for it) is primary above all things.  We teach our children that they don’t have to do something they don’t want to do because this is what we do.  And if the parents do not feel like it, they teach their children that enjoying their life on their own terms is what “America” and/or “freedom” are all about, and that our “feelings” should always serve as our moral compass.  Being a “good person”, very subjectively defined, becomes the primary religion (the “New Age” religion by which one declares oneself one’s own god).

The abyss goes even deeper.  Taking our families to church without teaching our families about worship and the true life of the Church and what it means to serve The Lord and one another (remember the Great Commandment and the other great one that is like the first, according to Jesus?) makes “going to church” the end itself rather than a means to a much great End.

Church is not about “going to heaven”.  Life in the Church is bigger than even this because Eternity does not begin only when we are dead.  We are in the midst of eternity this very day, this very hour!  One day The Lord will return and judge us all, and church attendance is not strictly listed in the Scriptures as one of those things by which we will be judged.  Then again, our own subjective, cultural notion of being “a good person” is also not listed.  There is more, much more; and our children have already been missing out on the “more” of what life in the Church can offer because we have been teaching them the world is their oyster without realizing the oyster is dead.

We must do better, and it begins – yes, I’ll say it – with the father because our children – in fact, our entire society - are digressing despite all the “progress” we think we’ve made.  Our children do not know why the world does not revolve around them because life in the home does, in fact, revolve around them.

“I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek Me.  I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on My name.  I held out My hands all day long to a rebellious people who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices …”  Isaiah 65:1-2 NRSV

Maybe we are already facing the Judgment.  Maybe there is a reaping unfolding before our very eyes.  Yet The Lord was – and still is - calling out to His people that a New Day will soon be upon them, but only the faithful – those who “seek” and “ask” and “knock”, those who hungrily follow the Good Shepherd rather than expect Him to follow us – will survive what will soon be the “former things”.  Those who “look back” to a life selfishly sought after and coveted will be left to “their own devices”.

Fathers, take the lead in your homes.  Repent of the former life that has helped to spawn a godless generation.  Teach your children the more excellent way.  Learn about the more excellent way yourselves.  It will be hard to reorient yourselves and your children toward others, but that is exactly where the Church will find The Lord.  Only then will we find the Life we were called to in the first place.

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