Earlier this week I came across an article that pretty much said what I have known and been trying to say as God’s pastor for long time now. The article just said it better, but hey… it’s not my fault! Seriously, though, over the years I have encountered scores of parents who are upset by their grown children’s choices, behavior, and lack of church attendance - or better - pursuit of God. Most had plenty of people and things to blame. In all too many instances, though, I have had to bite my tongue; because to say what I had come to know would not have been helpful at that time. But then once in a while I come across genuinely humble and contrite parents who have a recognition of the role they had played. Now there was something I could work with.
This article is found on the website, “Truth with Love” - How Skipping Church Affects Our Children. If you have children, grandchildren, or are thinking about having children, you should read it. It’s a very long url, so check out: speakingtruthwithlove.wordpress.com, and scroll down. A link for it is also on our church’s Facebook page.
Playing the blame game is nothing new. After all, it originated with the first humans - Adam and Eve (check out Genesis 3, especially verses 10-13). Since then man has refined the blame game to a fine art. My marriage is in trouble because of him/her. I lost my job because the boss was a jerk. He/she are not my friend anymore because they’re an idiot. Oh, and the pastor is a never-ending source of all that ails you… If he would just teach this or not teach that, if he would just visit me more often, or just leave me alone, or if he would just……. Just saying. The list of who could be at fault for your state of misery and troubles could be endless.
Let us get real, sometimes it just happens to be the enemy of our souls who is coming after us. The Bible talks about this. People lose their jobs in spite of the fact that they have been model employees. Spouses go off the reservation, even though the other has genuinely sought to be a godly mate. In spite of all that parents do to raise their children up in Christ, sometimes they exercise that pesky thing called “will” and choose courses that are quite contrary to what you have taught and prayed for. We often use a biblical term for them - Prodigals.
Bad things do happen to God’s children. The enemy - Satan - is very much alive and well and puts believers in his cross-hairs. My question is this, do we give him ammunition? James 4:7-8 says, So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. The whole book of James is geared towards not just professing faith, but living it out. 1 Peter 5:9 tells us to resist the enemy “steadfast in the faith.” That means we need to know God, know His Word, and live out His Word in obedience and trust… Faith. All Satan has at his disposal is an empty gun. Christ defeated him at the Cross.
But, when we choose to forget, ignore, or rebel against God’s Word, or simply get apathetic about this whole Christian living and going to church thing, we provide bullets for Satan’s gun. Are you really surprised when he fires them back… at you, at your family, at those you love, even your church? Using an agricultural metaphor, Paul wrote this: Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. (Galatians 6:7-8 NLT) Note the warning, but also note the promise… the hope!
Sometimes we really and truly are our own worst enemy. All too often we sow the seeds of our own troubles, our own misery. But rather than embracing God’s promises of forgiveness and restoration (c.f. 1 John 1:9), we embrace instead that ole nature of self that God delivered us from, and cast the blame at others. When troubles and misery comes our way, when hopes and dreams are dashed, and children stray… the first thing… the first person we should be examining is “US”. Solomon wrote, In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider. If things aren’t going well for you, it probably isn’t really “their” fault, whoever they or it may be. Don’t fall into the trap of the blame game… you will lose, every time. Instead, start with you and God. It can by painful and humbling, but in the end you will see God’s wonderful grace and mercy in action.
Now, if this blog has upset you, made you miserable, rained on your proverbial parade… feel free to blame me. I’m a big boy, and telling truth in love comes at a risk. I own that. But let me offer you a word of hope for those who choose to get serious about their faith, especially for those who find themselves in a world of hurt. While I am going to begin a four-part series on the Book of Jonah this Sunday, come September I will be turning to our next book - Joel. Joel wrote a warning of judgment to a people who have turned their backs on their God… kind of like some of us. But he also offers this wonderful word of hope: “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.” (Joel 2:25) If you’re truly His child, you need to know that God allows “locusts” into your life: troubles and trials that can bring about misery. In Israel’s case, just as it is in our own lives, turning our backs on God invites “consequences”. And yet, here is a wonderful word of hope and promise, and you won’t want to miss out on the study of this book. Stay tuned.
Have a most blessed summer! I do love you.