By David Baumann
A Reading from Deuteronomy 6:16-25
16 Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17You must diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his decrees, and his statutes that he has commanded you. 18Do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may go in and occupy the good land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give you, 19thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.
20 When your children ask you in time to come, “What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the Lord our God has commanded you?” 21then you shall say to your children, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22The Lord displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household. 23He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land that he promised on oath to our ancestors. 24Then the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our lasting good, so as to keep us alive, as is now the case. 25If we diligently observe this entire commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, we will be in the right.”
In the spring of 2000, there began a great influx of students from a local evangelical university into the church where I was rector. What began as a trickle quickly became a flood. The students already knew the Bible, were devoted to traditional Christian morals and convictions, and were eager to learn more and to respond to what they were taught.
Once I asked a small group of them how they had become such devoted Christians when most denominations take it for granted that people their age were in a “time of rebellion” from church. They all said that they became convinced of Christian life and truth at an early age because they saw their parents engaging in Bible study and prayer together every day, and following Jesus in their daily lives. Our parish’s declaration of purpose included the statement that “parents are the primary evangelists and educators of their children” — and these college students proved our point.
Note: our declaration said are the primary evangelists, not should be. Young children generally follow their parents in faith, whether the example is good or bad. Today’s lesson has two major points: “You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God,” and “You shall say to your children” when they ask you why you do so. The purpose is so that “it may go well with you” and so that the Lord “might keep us alive.” In short, do it, share it, and live it before your children, or before the young people in your life. Would you send your children out into the world without showing them who Jesus is? We can’t predict what our children will choose when they grow up, but the record shows, and God tells us, that it is always right, and our duty, to show them the way. And that obedience bears fruit.
David Baumann has been an Episcopal priest for 47 years, mainly in the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Springfield. He is now retired and has published nonfiction, science fiction novels, and short stories.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of West Ankole (Church of the Province of Uganda)
The Diocese of East Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.