When I was a small boy, I would sometimes get up early Sunday morning, sneak into my parents' bedroom and turn off their alarm clock so they would oversleep. You see, my family didn't know about the seventh-day Sabbath. We went to church on Sunday; thus the alarm would be set for that morning so the family could get up and go. My plan was that if the alarm didn't go off, they would oversleep and, by the time they woke up, it would be too late to make it to church.
Obviously, church was not something I looked forward to. And amazingly, my little ploy worked on numerous occasions! (Let's keep that secret between us, okay?)
At that young age, going to church was not important to me. Looking back on those experiences now, I realize that it was because what happened at church had little or no impact on the rest of my life. And it seems that my experience was not unique.
According to a 2003 survey by the Barna Research Group, most children who were brought up attending a church had a similar experience. “For most teenagers who have spent years attending church activities, their faith is not integrated into who they are and how they live. Most of the young people who claim they developed an understanding of the Bible … show no evidence of using that understanding in relation to the core beliefs and lifestyle choices that we studied” (www.barna.org ).
In other words, these young people did not take ownership in the church. They did not see that religion, faith and church had any real relevance to the rest of their lives. It wasn't their church. It was their parents' church.
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you view religion, faith and church as just something for your parents? Do you feel the principles taught at church have no real bearing on the choices you make in life? It doesn't have to be this way!
In the year Jesus Christ was crucified, the Feast of Pentecost came with some rather dramatic events. First there came a sound like the roaring of a tornado. Then it looked like each of the disciples had fire dancing on his head. They were each filled with God's Spirit, and by God's power they were able to preach to the people so that every man understood what was said in his own native language (Acts 2:1-12 Acts 2:1-12 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What means this?
American King James Version×).
The Church of God had begun. Jesus promised that His Church would always exist (Matthew 16:18 Matthew 16:18And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
American King James Version×) and that He would always be working with His people to fulfill the will of God the Father.
A special promise
On the first Pentecost for the Church of God, Peter said something of tremendous importance: “For the promise is to you and to your children , and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39 Acts 2:39For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
American King James Version×, emphasis added).
What promise? The promise of God's Church and His leadership in it, the promise that with maturity and repentance, the people of God can be baptized and receive His Holy Spirit. This promise is to the adults and to their children. The Church of God isn't to be just your parents' Church. God wants it to be your Church too!
When Paul wrote to the Church members in Corinth, he noted that the children of God's people are “holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14 1 Corinthians 7:14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
American King James Version×). To be “holy” means to be set apart or separated for a special purpose. To the Jewish people, this came through the covenant God made with Abraham and Abraham's descendants. To the Church, this means accepting the offer to have a special, close relationship with our Creator. In both cases young people are included!
So the door is open to young people too. Yet you have to decide whether or not you will accept and act on the opportunity God has given you. Will you make the Church of God your Church? Will you listen to and learn the biblical principles taught at church services and use those principles to guide the choices you make in your life? Will you respond to this priceless opportunity?
Responding to God's offer means making the values and teachings of His Church your values. It means using those values to guide your decisions regarding the use of drugs and alcohol, sexual relations, music and entertainment, romantic relationships, how you dress and even how you manage your finances. It means you make the words of your Creator the guiding principles for everything you do.
When I was a small boy sneaking in to turn off the alarm clock on Sunday mornings, I didn't know about the Feast of Pentecost, much less understand it. I certainly didn't know there was an opportunity offered to me. If you want to find out more about the meaning of Pentecost and the promises God makes to you, request your free copy of God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind (www.gnmagazine.org/booklets/HD/). The Creator never intended that His Church be just for your parents. He wants it to be your Church too! VT