1 Peter 3:14-15 - But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
Of all the questions which have been asked of The Lutheran Hour Speakers, the most reoccurring is "Do you miss anything from being pastor in your own parish?"
Since I knew what they meant, I never responded with the theologically correct, "I never had a parish; they all belonged to the Lord." Instead, I listed some of those things which I really did miss. First on the list was not knowing the joys and sorrows, the victories and defeats of the people with whom I was shaking hands after church. Another thing I truly missed was teaching the Catechism to the seventh- and eighth-graders. I missed seeing them grow in knowledge, skill, and the ability to share why they believed what they did.
Well, a lot has changed since those days. And in all probability, there are better ways to teach than the methods I used. I hope so, because from everything I'm reading our young people are going to have their faith challenged sooner rather than later.
No longer can we expect Satan to respectfully wait until our children are in high school or college or have their own families before he tries to challenge them. From what I've been told, third- and fourth-graders are being challenged by skeptics who say the Bible is a collection of ancient legends and fables ... or say that Jesus is the only way to heaven is intolerant ... or say that modern science has shot holes in the faith.
In our text above, the apostle Peter says each of us needs to gently and respectfully share why we believe what we do. It's good advice, and more than one authority is offering up suggestions on how we may go about preparing our children to be defenders of their faith.
1. Begin now: The first rule is don't wait to educate your child until his faith has been challenged. Anticipate the questions which are coming and explain at a level they can understand. For example, how do we know there is a God? Answer: with all its gears and such, watches aren't found in nature. Watches have to have a maker. The universe is far more complex that any watch. It, too, needs a Maker.
2. Deal with the questions which everyone asks sooner or later? You know, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" "If God loves us, why do people die?"
3. Don't just teach the children what to believe; teach them why we believe it. And teach them how to gently and respectfully debate with others. Don't let them get steamrollered.
4. Listen to their doubts. Jesus never put anyone down for their doubts and questions. On the contrary, He answered all such folks. You do the same.
I'm not saying this will make every child immune from the clutches of the old, evil foe. It won't.. But it does give some weapons which can be used against evil.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, You said the days would come which would be so bad, even the elect would fall away if that were possible. Let us help our young ones so they stick to You throughout their entire lives. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Melissa Cain Travis in January 2018 for Christianity Today. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: click here.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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