When we as adults look around at the youth in our congregations and in our households, what do we see? Do we see future members of God’s family with the opportunity to know God and live His way, having the same calling that God extended to us? Do we interact with the youth in a way that shows respect and inclusion in this special calling? Or do we find ourselves separated, wondering if God is calling the youth among us?
God perfectly constructed the bond of marriage in order to produce godly offspring. It’s interesting that the Old Testament prophet Malachi talks about this. “But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring” (Malachi 2:15). God wants godly offspring! Through proper teaching and training of our youth, God desires future leaders who will rule with Christ. God wholehearted wants our youth to embrace His truth and commit to being members of His family!
In Romans 8:30, the apostle Paul describes the process that a person, regardless of age, goes through when becoming members of God’s eternal family. First God calls—or invites—the person. If they answer that call, then through baptism they are justified (which means to set free or make innocent). The final step then occurs at Jesus Christ’s second return when they are glorified (which means to render honor and glory), and so they are welcomed into the family of God.
Jesus Christ Himself references this invitation when He made the statement that “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). This statement shows that the invitees are welcomed and their presence is desired, but that they have a choice in how they will reply. God calls, or invites, many people. But each one's response determines whether he becomes chosen and included in God’s eternal family.
God perfectly constructed the bond of marriage in order to produce godly offspring.
Paul states that our youth are important to God. They are so important to God that they are described as “holy.” Even in families where either the dad or the mom are the only parent baptized, the children are still holy to God (1 Corinthians 7:14). The word “holy” means to be set apart, sanctified, worthy of awe, sacred, and sharers of the covenant. The Complete Word Study Dictionary by Spiros Zodhiates states that its fundamental idea is separation, consecration, devotion to the service of God, sharing in God’s purity, and abstaining from earth’s defilement. We must take seriously the tremendous opportunity and future made available to our youth by God Himself. He considers them holy!
Parents especially, but by extension all members of the Church, must take serious the calling offered to our youth. We should view them as participants of the congregation, praying for them, while expecting and encouraging them to one day make a commitment through baptism to God. Let us together encourage the youth to answer God’s calling!
What Is Our Responsibility?
Parents, your God-given role is to actively and daily be involved as teachers and mentors of God’s true way of life to each of your children. The Church supports you through Family Study Guides, Teen Bible Studies, Feast activities, regional activities, and the United Youth Camps program. But none of these activities can replace your total involvement with your precious godly offspring. These activities are offered to help support you, but they cannot replace you in your God-given role as a father or mother. So what are some of your responsibilities?
Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (New International Version). While the basic teachings of God’s way of life should be taught to our youth, our example will shine more powerfully than our words.
Moses reminds us that our teaching and example should be diligent throughout the day, when we walk and sit, when we rise up and lay down (Deuteronomy 6:7). As parents, we should take the time to recognize examples throughout each day of God’s way in action—or Satan’s way in action. Then, take those examples and use them as talking points with our children, no matter what their age. Consider the proverb which instructs parents to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Our daily example, what we talk about, the way we interact with others, how or if we take the time to grow our relationships within the family, and how we keep God’s law are so influential to our youth.
David gives us some concepts to consider when we teach. “Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11). Notice the proximity and relationship that is in this verse. Come to me; listen to me; I will teach you. There is a personal and close relationship that should be prevalent between parent and child. Deep respect is shown here from the parent to the child and also from the child to the parent. This kind of relationship takes great care and consistency to develop.
Our Children are Called, and They Are Holy!
Parents, and all members of the Church, must view children as genuine, respected participants of the congregation, hoping and expecting that they will become baptized fellow members. The biblical perspective is always to encourage people to answer God’s calling, as opposed to offering loopholes legitimizing no response. Implying that it is equally valid for a child to not respond to God now is a serious mistake. Just as Abraham “commanded” his children, God urged ancient Israel to respond to Him for their own good. He said, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Because God’s calling represents the best life available, children should be kept well aware of God’s special invitation to them now.
Our children have the potential of being a kingdom of priests to our Great God. Together let’s teach our children, encourage them through our words, and show them by our example that God’s way is a blessing, and it really does work!